May is the perfect time to raise awareness of skin cancer and the simple steps people can take to prevent and detect this condition. Dr. Steven T. Powell, dermatologist, has been in practice for 26 years, and Dori Hite, P.A. has been a dermatology physician assistant for nine years. They answer common questions about skin cancer.
How common is skin cancer?
One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer. Most of these are basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas. Melanoma, while not the most common, is the most serious form of skin cancer and continues to show increasing rates. One American dies every hour from melanoma.
Are all skin cancers caused by sun exposure?
Ninety to 95 percent of cases are caused by sun exposure, and most of these are basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas. Melanoma is a bit more complicated because there are other risk factors beyond sun exposure. Fortunately, sun exposure is a risk factor you can control.
How do moles relate to skin cancer?
When looking at a mole, we consider its size, shape and color and then whether these characteristics are changing. If moles are abnormally dark, irregularly colored, or increasing in size, or if you have many large or irregular-looking moles, you should come in for an exam.
How can I tell if I am at risk for skin cancer?
Risk factors for skin cancer include exposure to the sun, greater than 50 pigmented moles and a personal or family history of skin cancer. Also, people with red or blond hair, light eyes, sun freckling and an inability to tan are at greater risk.
What are some things I can do to prevent skin cancer?
We suggest staying out of the sun between the hours of 11am and 2pm. Daily use of sunscreen is important. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Wear protective clothing while outdoors. A wide-brimmed hat is also an excellent investment for your skin.
How can I tell if I have skin cancer?
If during a self-exam you notice red or scaly spots, pigmented spots, spots that change shape or size over time, spots that bleed or have scabs that won’t heal, or spots that remain tender beyond a few days, you should come in for an exam. The best way to determine whether a spot is skin cancer is to get an exam. We can often tell within seconds whether something is wrong.
What skin cancer treatments do you offer in your office?
We offer Mohs micrographic surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer of the head, neck and other high-risk areas, surgical excision for melanoma cases, Levulan phototherapy, laser surgery, cryosurgery and pharmaceutical treatment for certain types of skin cancer.
What other procedures do you perform in your office?
We offer a wide array of cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other injectables, fillers such as Restylane and Juvederm, and IPL light therapy. We perform chemical peels, microdermabrasion and sclerotherapy for spider veins. We also have a successful weight-loss program called Releana.
Dr. Steven T. Powell
2910 SE 3rd Court, Ocala