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Skin cancer occurs when abnormal skin cells begin to grow uncontrollably. It starts when skin cells are damaged, often by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. This damage can cause mutations or DNA defects. This can lead to mutated skin cells which form malignant tumors.
For skin cancer caused by spending too much time in the sun, sunscreen is the best way to take preventive measures.
*Courtesy of the American Dermatology Association
Skin Damage and Moles
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, when your skin tans or burns, it is a sign that your skin is being damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. For those who like a good “base tan” unfortunately there is no safe way to tan with the sun. Your skin becomes red or dark from sunburn because the skin is increasing its production of melanin in an effort to protect the deeper layers of skin from the UV rays. This happens whether a person has light or dark skin.
Dermatologists have known for years that nevi are an indicator of a higher risk for melanoma or skin cancer. Having many nevi or some with atypical features, could signal a higher risk for melanoma skin cancer. One way that Dermatologists evaluate nevi is using the ABCDE’s of Melanoma.
The ABCDEs of Melanoma:
- Asymmetry. Nevi that are not symmetrical or that are uneven could signal melanoma.
- Border. An irregular or poorly defined border could be a risk factor.
- Color. Varied colors in nevi could include white, black, red or blue, this also includes loss of pigment
- Diameter. Melanomas are usually larger than a pencil eraser- approximately 6mm
- Evolving. Some nevi can change over time such as itching, bleeding or acute change from other nevi
Are you at risk for melanoma cancer?
- Those with 50 or more moles, large, or unusual moles have a higher risk.
- Moles that have more than one color, have changed, or quickly develop could signal melanoma.
- Talk to your family. Do you have a first degree relative (immediate family) with melanoma? Those with red or blonde hair, or blue or green eyes could have a higher risk.
- Have you been diagnosed with melanoma or non-melanoma skin, or previous other type of cancer? Having other types of skin issues could mean a higher risk.
- Have you had exposure to sun or artificial tanning devices?
Treatment of Skin Cancer
Beebe Healthcare practices and providers work together to create a personalized treatment plan for your skin cancer.
- Simple excision
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- curettage and electrodesiccation
Beebe Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery includes Dr. Daniel W. Cuozzo and Dr. Monte Meltzer, and Melissa Taylor, NP-C. They see patients at the Medical Arts Building at the Beebe Rehoboth Health Campus on Route 24. For more information, call (302) 645-4801.