About Skin Cancer Screenings
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime. The high prevalence of skin cancer makes regular skin exams very important, especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer. Early detection is vital to give you more treatment options and better outcomes. In addition to many advanced skin cancer treatments, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Eric Wilkerson offers comprehensive skin cancer screenings and biopsies of abnormal areas. To schedule a skin cancer screening, contact Fort Lauderdale Dermatology in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Types of Skin Cancer
Dr. Wilkerson looks for one type of pre-cancer and three common types of skin cancer, as well as many other rare tumors, during a skin cancer screening:
- Actinic Keratoses (AK): This pre-cancer tends to form after the age of 40 years and on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun — such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms. AKs appear as dry, scaly areas and are commonly deemed precancerous because it has the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common type of cancer. BCC can form anywhere on the body and may appear as a pink area or as a flesh-colored or pearl-like bump. BCC needs to be treated because it has the potential to grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): This is the second most common type of skin cancer. Forming on the skin that gets the most sun exposure, SCC appears as scaly patches; red, firm bumps; and/or sores that heal and reopen. These should be removed to avoid damage and disfigurement.
- Melanoma: This sort of cancer develops abruptly as a dark spot on the skin. Dr. Wilkerson uses the ABCDs to detect melanoma — Asymmetry, Border, Color, and Diameter. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases but the majority of skin cancer deaths. For this reason, melanoma should be treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed.
Men and women of all ages are at risk for skin cancer or pre-cancer. While people with fairer complexions are at greater risk, all skin tones and types may get skin cancer. Dr. Wilkerson recommends every patient perform regular self-exams of their skin so they know what is normal and when a spot changes. You should schedule a skin exam anytime you are concerned that a spot on your skin has changed, itches, or bleeds. If you or a close relative have been diagnosed with skin cancer, then you should make appointments for annual skin checks.
During your skin exam, Dr. Wilkerson will check your entire body for birthmarks, moles, and any abnormal areas. He might make a map of spots to mark areas of concern and to readily identify new growths at future appointments. Dr. Wilkerson can show you how to perform a self-exam between your appointments. In some cases, Dr. Wilkerson may perform a biopsy of a suspicious spot. He will numb the region, then shave a small sample. The biopsy will be sent to a pathology lab for analysis. When Dr. Wilkerson receives your pathology report, you will be contacted with the results.
What to Expect
After your exam, Dr. Wilkerson will talk to you about your results and any recommended actions. He will also let you know when you should return for your next skin cancer screening. If you need a biopsy of an abnormal area, there is a possibility of scarring. Dr. Wilkerson does his best to minimize the appearance of scarring and take the smallest skin sample possible during the biopsy. Dr. Wilkerson will tell you the best way to care for your skin after the biopsy to help your skin heal correctly. With good care, any scarring should be flat and fade so it is barely visible.
Early Detection is the Key
Understanding your risk and early detection are two important keys to the successful treatment of precancerous lesions like AK or skin cancer. If you are due for a yearly skin check, then contact our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL. As a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Eric Wilkerson is specifically trained to be an expert in identifying abnormal skin lesions. Whether you are already seeing Dr. Wilkerson for cosmetic treatments, are at high risk for developing skin cancer, or you have questions about an abnormal growth on your skin, schedule a skin cancer screening at Fort Lauderdale Dermatology.