Skin Cancer Center
The skin is the largest organ in the body. Heredity and the dangers of sun exposure contribute to skin cancer as a growing health concern. Unfortunately, skin cancer is the most common cancer we’ll face in our lifetimes, and the numbers continue to rise for people of all skin colors and races.
People with light skin and blue eyes, who sunburn easily and have a lot of freckles, have the highest risk of developing skin cancer. Some good news is the skin has an incredible capacity to heal and regenerate. Dermatologists at Aurora Health Care specialize in diagnosing and treating skin cancer using the latest treatments available to stop its progression, offering the best possible outcomes.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
You might be at risk for skin cancer if you have or had:
- A family history of skin cancer
- Exposure to X-rays, tanning beds or sunlamps, or to cancer-causing compounds (such as arsenic)
- A weakened immune system
- Scarring caused by a disease or burn
Understanding Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a tumor or growth of abnormal cells on the skin. While healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way, cancer cells grow and divide in a rapid, random way. This results in tumors that are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. The second most common is squamous cell carcinoma. Both cancers typically occur on the surface layer of the skin. Aurora Cancer Care physicians can treat these two types of skin cancer easily, when found early. The most serious type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is more likely to spread beyond the skin and can be life-threatening.
Signs of Skin Cancer
Skin cancers appear on the skin as moles, scaly patches, open sores or raised bumps. These signs can vary among different people, so if you’re concerned about a mole or a bump, please schedule an appointment with an Aurora doctor to determine if the mole or bump is cancerous. There are two
categories of skin cancer that can develop:
- Nonmelanoma (basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas)
Diagnosing and Treating Skin Cancer
If your Aurora physician removes a mole or bump, your physician will send the biopsy to a lab, where it can be viewed under a microscope for testing. Sometimes, a biopsy can remove all of the cancerous tissue completely and no further treatment is necessary. However, skin cancer treatment usually involves removing the lesion and part of the normal skin surrounding it.
Skin cancer treatments include freezing, scraping and burning, excision and radiation therapy. Mohs micrographic surgery is another option. With Mohs micrographic surgery, your Aurora physician precisely removes only the cancerous tissue, leaving behind as much normal skin as possible.
At Aurora, if your cancer treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach you may receive treatment and consultation from a variety of medical specialties, including pathology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and surgical oncology.
Preventing Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most preventable type of cancer, yet it’s on the rise in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than two million people every year. This is more than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. Experts predict that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime, and 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once.
The good news – Aurora physicians usually can cure skin cancer when it’s detected early. That’s why it’s so important that you seek medical attention as soon as a mole or bump seems suspicious to you. Early detection and treatment could save your life.
The best way to protect from developing skin cancer is to avoid overexposure to the sun and, especially, avoid getting sunburned. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun damage your skin and, over time, lead to skin cancer. Aurora dermatologists suggest you follow these precautions to protect yourself from skin cancer:
- Don’t spend long periods of time in direct sunlight, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wear hats with wide brims that protect your face and ears
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go out in the sun
- Reapply sunscreen often, especially when swimming or with heavy perspiration
- Wear sunglasses (with UVA protection) to protect your eyes
- Use a lip balm with sunscreen
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
- Show any unusual bump or changing mole to your physician