Skin Cancer

Board Certified Dermatologists are highly trained experts in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Through years of training and experience, dermatologists are able to differentiate many forms of skin cancer from non-cancerous lesions. Over the past decade, new instruments and techniques have been developed, such as dermoscopy, which aid dermatologists in the diagnosis and exclusion of skin cancers by allowing high powered in-office magnification of lesions. These new technical advancements have improved the detection of skin cancers while simultaneously decreasing the number of biopsies performed on benign lesions. 

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the world today. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and more skin cancers will be diagnosed this year than lung, breast, colon, and and prostate cancer combined. 

Surgical removal in a dermatology office remains the gold standard for treatment for most skin cancers, although depending on the type, size, and location of a skin cancer, micrographic surgery, radiation, and innovative new topical therapies are also utilized to either reduce recurrence rates or side effects from surgery. 

There are three main types of skin cancer. While a number of other forms of skin cancer do exist, they are exceedingly rare and will be discussed elsewhere. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Image related to Skin Cancer Dermatologist Washington, DC Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of cancer (not just skin cancer) in humans. Basal cell carcinoma is normally found on sun-exposed skin of the face or neck as a red or pink bump which may bleed spontaneously and typically takes a long-time to heal. While basal cell carcinoma has a negligible risk of metastasis, lesions will generally continue to enlarge, resulting in locally destructive effects if left to grow for an extended period of time. During a skin cancer screening, a small sample of a suspected basal cell carcinoma will be biopsied under local anesthesia and sent to a pathologist for confirmation of the diagnosis. Once confirmed as a basal cell carcinoma, a patient will be scheduled for an outpatient dermatologic surgery appointment for removal of the remaining tumor with margins and closure of the resultant wound. Other treatment options for basal cell carcinoma include micrographic surgery, topical chemotherapy, and occasionally radiation therapy. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Image related to Skin Cancer Dermatologist Washington, DC Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, and in organ transplant recipients squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is typically found on sun-exposed skin of the head, arms, and legs. Squamous cell carcinoma normally starts as an inflamed or scaly red patch which may become crusted or ulcerated. If a squamous cell carcinoma is suspected a biopsy will be performed in the office and a sample sent to a pathologist for confirmation. Surgical excision or micrographic surgery is the standard of care for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma, however for certain types of lesions topical chemotherapy such as Aldara (Imiquimod) may be prescribed. Squamous cell carcinomas rarely metastasize, however is left untreated they can become locally destructive requiring more extensive surgery and reconstruction once diagnosed. 

Melanoma

Image related to Skin Cancer Dermatologist Washington, DC
Malignant melanoma is less common than the other main skin cancers, but is by far the most feared. It is estimated that over 85,000 case of melanoma will be diagnosed in 2017. While melanoma occurs most often on sun exposed skin, it is also commonly found in non-sun exposed skin. When detected early and treated by evidence-based guidelines, melanoma is completely curable. While there have been groundbreaking advances in the oncologic treatment of metastatic melanoma, early detection and treatment remains the most important component to melanoma survival. 

The ABCDE's of Melanoma Skin Cancer are:

A - Asymmetry
B - Borders that are irregular
C - Color variation
D - Diameter larger than 6 millimeters 
E - Evolution (changing lesion)

Skin Cancer Screening

Cancers of the skin are the most common of all malignancies and are increasing in number. Most are treatable and curable if diagnosed early. Comprehensive skin examination by a dermatologist and biopsy, when needed, are invaluable tools to reduce long-term complications of skin cancer. 

To schedule a skin cancer screening with Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Thomas Adrian, please call 202-966-8814.




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