As of March 20, 2020 we are no longer seeing patients in our office due to COVID-19. We are happy to continue caring for you during these uncertain times. We are now offering remote appointments for new and established patients although we will no longer be able to see you in person. For some patients, an in person visit is best, but if you feel that your concern could be addressed online, this may be a convenient option for you.
There are many types of skin cancer but the three most common types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are rarely life threatening and melanoma is the very dangerous type of skin cancer that can be life threatening. However, all three types need to be treated or they can continue to grow.
Exposure to the sun is a main cause of these types of skin cancer.
Of these three types, the most frequently encountered is basal cell carcinoma and affects 1 in 5 Americans in their lifetime.
Basal cell skin cancer is most often on the face but it can occur anywhere on the body. It might start out looking like a pimple that never goes away and bleeds easily. Although basal cell carcinoma is almost never life threatening, it can continue to grow and bleed and should therefore be treated. Basal cell skin cancers can be treated in a number of different ways. They can be removed with Mohs surgery (a method to cut out skin cancers on the face), excised (a simple way to cut out the cancer), scraped away or treated with a cream. Your dermatologist can discuss with you the best way to treat your specific type of skin cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma is another type of skin cancer. This type most often starts out looking like a warty growth or a thickened area of skin. It may be tender a times. There are types of squamous cell skin cancers that grow quickly but most grow very slowly. They are treated with the same methods as basal cell skin cancers.
Melanoma can be life threatening and it is treatable if it is caught early on. People at higher risk for melanoma are those with fair skin, light colored hair, have a history of excessive sun exposure or indoor tanning, and those with family members who have had a melanoma. It is best to catch a melanoma early on before it grows and spreads internally. Warning signs that might indicate that a skin lesion is a melanoma are the ABCDE signs. You should seek a physician’s opinion on a skin lesion if it has any one of the following ABCDE signs:
Wear SPF of 30 or higher daily. The vast majority of melanomas are caused by overexposure to the sun. In fact, one UK study found that about 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Only 20-to-30 percent of melanomas are found in existing moles, while 70-to-80 percent arise on apparently normal skin.
More people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.
Our goal here at The Dermatology of Institute of Boston is protect the health of our patients and staff. To continue caring for our patients during these uncertain times, while strictly adhering to the guidelines set by the CDC, we will be only offering virtual consultations. For some patients, an in person visit is best, but if you feel that your concern could be addressed online, this may be a convenient option for you.