The best way to find skin cancer in its earliest and most treatable stage is by checking your skin regularly and having a dermatologist perform a focused skin cancer screening.
One local dermatologist is offering free skin cancer screenings on May 3rd.
May is skin cancer awareness month. So if you feel you may be at risk for skin cancer, this is the perfect opportunity to be screened by a dermatologist.
The goal for this free event is to educate individuals on risk factors for skin cancer and what precautions to take, especially because skin cancer rates have been on the rise in the last 10 years.
"I think that’s because people live an outdoor lifestyle. They do more recreational things outside, and they get more sunlight," said Dermatologist Dr. Beverly Held.
Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States. Dr. Beverly Held says you are also at greater risk for skin cancer if you have fair skin, a family history of this disease, or if you’ve used tanning beds at any time in your life.
"People who use tanning beds are taking a huge risk because that is a well known cause of all different types skin cancer, and it is something people should avoid at all cost," said Dr. Held.
Individuals should be checked for any suspicious skin markings and any changes in the way their skin looks.
"If you have a mole, and its been there for 20 years, and it looks now like it did 20 years ago, it’s unlikely if that is anything bad. But, if you have a growth that is new, and it is changing so you think it is getting bigger, thicker, redder, itchy, bleeding, any of those things, that is the sign that you need to have it checked,"said Dr. Held.
The free screenings will be conducted by Dr. Beverly Held on Thursday, May 3rd at 5756 S. Staples, Suite J2. Wear comfortable clothing and call ahead to schedule a time slot: 361-993-3190.
There are basically three types of skin cancer:
Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in the skin and is a cancer of the pigment-producing cells in the skin known as melanocytes. It is curable when detected early. This condition is much like a weed overgrowing a garden. The gravest concern with melanoma is that it is able to metastasize or travel into the bloodstream if not diagnosed and treated early. It is important to follow the standard ABCDE method in determining if any change in your skin could be malignant in nature:
- Border Irregularity
- Color – Nonuniform Color
- Diameter – Larger than 6mm
- Evolution – Change of Size
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer worldwide. It is associated with aging and years of chronic sun exposure. It develops in the basal layer of the skin (deeper than the surface level). It seldom spreads to other parts of the body but can be disfiguring if not treated early. It has a tendency to infiltrate surrounding areas and destroy tissue if early treatment is not sought. Basal cell carcinoma does not usually metastasize or travel into the bloodstream.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second-most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is a tumor that arises in the outer layer of the skin (the epithelium). More than 250,000 new SCC cases are diagnosed every year in the U.S. Middle-aged and elderly persons, especially those with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure, are most likely to be affected. If treated in a timely manner, it is uncommon for skin squamous cells to spread to other areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinomas often arise from smaller sandpaper-like growths called solar or actinic keratosis.
Signs you should look for:
- Always know the patterns of moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks on your skin to watch for changes.
- Having a regular skin exam is important for people who are at high risk of skin cancer. If you notice changing in size, shape or color, you should talk with your doctor.