Skin cancer affects millions of people, but when diagnosed early it can generally be removed and treated successfully. If you have an abnormal mole or other skin growth, make an appointment with Desiree Ratner, MD, in New York City. a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship trained Mohs and dermatologic surgeon with more than 23 years of experience, Dr. Ratner specializes in treatments for skin cancer at her practice in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood. Call to schedule an appointment today.
Skin cancer is a condition where abnormal and cancerous cells start to grow in your skin. Most skin cancer is caused by damage from the ultraviolet (UV) rays of sunlight. Anyone who has developed a skin cancer is at higher risk of developing more. There are three main types of skin cancer, as well as a common precancerous condition:
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer with more than 2 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States alone. Basal cell carcinoma gets its name from the cells it affects, and symptoms generally include red patches or pink open sores on your skin. This type of cancer rarely spreads outside of the original tumor.
Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the squamous cells on your skin’s outermost layer and is the second most common type of skin cancer. The growths typically look like open sores, warts, or elevated growths.
While melanoma is less common than basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, it is a more serious cancer that develops from melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells. Melanomas look like moles and often do develop in existing moles. Although usually limited to the skin, they have the potential to spread to other areas. When caught early on, melanoma is not only treatable but curable. If left untreated melanomas can spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body and can be more difficult to treat.
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous condition where you develop a crusty or scaly skin growth from UV light damage. While actinic keratosis isn’t cancerous, if left untreated the cells can mutate and develop into cancer.
With skin cancer, you should keep an eye out for any new growths on your skin. It’s also important to monitor your moles for any new growths or changes. The ABCDE rule is a good method to determine if your moles are normal or not. Look out for the following characteristics:
The dermatologist examines your skin and looks closely at any abnormal growths or moles. She also feels your lymph nodes near any suspect moles, as skin cancer may spread to your lymphatic system.
She checks for signs of cancer, including crusting, bleeding, oozing, and applies the ABCDE test on existing moles. In some cases, she may use a skin biopsy to test a sample of tissue from your skin.
If you’re concerned about skin cancer, call Desiree Ratner, MD, or schedule a consultation online today.