Skin Cancer Detection: When to See a Dermatologist

Have a doctor examine scaly skin.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than there are combined cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that more people have had skin cancer over the last 30 years than every other type of cancer combined.

Skin cancer can start out with subtle symptoms, such as bumps, growths or an unusual mole. Rough or scaly patches can also be cause for concern. It’s important to regularly take inventory of your skin to look for changes and rule out skin cancer. There are several reasons your skin could be rough or scaly, but all warrant a visit to the dermatologist.

Actinic Keratoses

Sometimes called solar keratoses, actinic keratoses are rough or scaly growths that can appear anywhere on your body. Caused by sun exposure, these small patches of skin most commonly occur on the face or back of the hand.

If you suspect that your patchy skin could be actinic keratoses, make an appointment with a dermatologist right away. Actinic keratoses are the most common type of precancerous skin lesions and could lead to the development of squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic Cheilitis

Actinic cheilitis is a condition that causes dry, scaly patches on the lips and mouth. Actinic cheilitis is generally caused by prolonged sun exposure. If you notice that your lips are perpetually dry, crack easily or feel swollen, you should talk to your dermatologist. These lesions can potentially be precancerous and should not be ignored.

Seborrheic Keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses are small mole or wart-like growths that can appear on the skin, particularly as one ages. These growths range in color, but are generally brown or tan and can appear anywhere except the palms and bottoms of the feet.

Seborrheic keratoses are sometimes called “barnacles” and are not considered harmful. It’s important, though, not to self-diagnose yours, as a precancerous mole could easily be mistaken for a seborrheic keratosis.

Be Proactive With Skin Health

If you’ve identified something different on or about your skin, don’t ignore it or wait until it gets worse. Early detection is an important component in successfully treating cancer, and self-exams are vital in that effort. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD) those with any history of melanoma should see a board-certified dermatologist at least once a year for a full-body exam. Your doctor can make individual recommendations as to how often to have these exams, based on skin type, history of sun exposure and family history.

Whether you’ve noticed worrying areas of your skin or want to make sure there aren’t any you haven’t discovered, contact Gwinnett Dermatology today for an appointment.

Posted in: Medical Dermatology, Men's Health and Wellness, Skin Care

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