Dermatologists are best qualified to assess and treat skin cancer because they receive extensive medical training in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions, including skin cancer.
You should see a dermatologist when you:
- Find an area, or patch of skin that you suspect could have changed or be a skin cancer
- Have risk factors that increase the likelihood you will develop skin cancer
With Dermatologists being so busy and difficult to get in to, this has led to the proliferation of so called “skin cancer clinics” with many of them run by poorly trained staff who carry out unnecessary surgery.
Find a Suspicious Lesion
People of all races and skin types get skin cancer. With early detection and proper treatment, skin cancer is highly curable. If left untreated, skin cancer can damage the surrounding tissue and in some cases spread. With some skin cancers, once it spreads, the prognosis is poor.
To detect skin cancer in its early and most treatable stage, dermatologists recommend that everyone perform regular self- examinations of their skin. Today, more than half of all diagnosed melanomas are first identified by the patient. A self-examination is easy to do
Using a full-length mirror and a handheld mirror, check your entire body for moles and other lesions that:
- Have grown
- Bleed and crust over continually but do not heal
- Have changed (includes appearance of a new mole)
- Look unusual
If you discover a mole or other lesion with any of the above characteristics, don’t delay in seeing you general practitioner, or if concerned ask him for a referral to see a dermatologist. You also should see a dermatologist if you notice a brown to black-colored streak underneath or bordering a nail, a pigmented mass in your mouth, or a dark spot on an eye. Remember, early detection could save your life.
Have Risk Factors?
If you have risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer, you should perform regular self-examinations as well as see a dermatologist for regular checkups. These risk factors include:
- Close blood relative has / had melanoma, several more distant relatives have a history of melanoma, or a family history of other skin cancers
- Personal history of skin cancer
- History of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, tanning beds, or sun lamps — whether intermittent or year round, even if the exposure was years ago
- Experienced severe, especially blistering, sunburns
- Fair skin, especially when the person has blond or red hair and blue, green or gray eyes
- Sun sensitive, or tend to burn and freckle rather than tan
- Large, asymmetrical, or unusual-looking mole(s)
- 50-plus moles
- History of x-ray treatments for acne
- Taking immunosuppressive medications for severe arthritis or to prevent organ rejection
If you have a suspicious lesion try to see a qualified, specialist Dermatologist. We have four at our practice.