Approximately one million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, easily making it the most common form of cancer. People of all skin types are susceptible to skin cancer, and one in five will develop the disease at some point in their lives. With early detection and treatment, however, most skin cancers are curable. The team of board-certified dermatologists at District Dermatology in McLean, Virginia provide comprehensive skin cancer care, including routine screenings. Call or book your appointment online today.
All types of skin cancer are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, either from the sun or tanning beds. Skin cancer may develop following cumulative, long-term exposure, or after briefer instances of intense exposure.
Although skin cancer lesions can appear anywhere on your body, they typically develop on areas of skin that receive the most UV exposure, including the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, backs of the hands, arms, and legs.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer: More than four million Americans are diagnosed yearly. Basal skin cells make up the deepest part of the epidermis. A BCC is any abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion that begins within this layer.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most prevalent form of skin cancer, affecting more than a million Americans each year. Squamous cells make up the outermost part of your epidermis. SCC occurs when abnormal cells arise within that layer and begin to grow uncontrollably.
Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, but it’s also the most problematic. Undetected melanoma is likely to spread rapidly, forming malignant tumors in other areas of your body. Diagnosing and treating melanomas early is imperative to achieving a high cure rate.
An actinic keratosis (AK) is a rough patch of skin that can be as small as a pinhead or as large as a quarter, and range in color from skin-toned to pink to reddish brown. AKs typically develop after years of sun exposure, emerging slowly without other symptoms.
Approximately 58 million Americans have AKs, and most remain benign. They can develop into an SCC, though, making early diagnosis and treatment essential.
The team at District Dermatology conducts visual skin inspections to determine if any of the moles, spots, patches, growths, sores on your skin, or any dark streaks that appear under your nails, are potential signs of cancer.
Most skin cancer screenings are full-body exams that require you to remove your clothes and wear a gown. If you’ve never been diagnosed with skin cancer, your exam may be completed in as little as 10 minutes. If you have a lot of moles, the exam may take longer.
During the exam, your dermatologist will use a special magnifying device to inspect your skin closely, including your scalp, between your toes, and the soles of your feet. If they notice something suspicious, they may perform a biopsy by removing a layer of skin for examination under a microscope.
Before your skin cancer screening, note down areas of your skin that concern you. This includes any moles, spots, or growths that have changed in appearance, itch, or cause discomfort.
If you wear makeup or nail/toe polish, remove it for your appointment because some skin cancers begin in the nail bed. And do not apply moisturizer, lotion, or sunscreen to your skin until after your screening.
Although annual skin cancer screenings are advisable for most patients, you may require more frequent screenings if you’ve ever been diagnosed with skin cancer or precancerous cells.
To schedule your next skin cancer screening, call today or book an appointment online anytime.