Skin cancer affects millions of people in the United States. Are you one of them? Frankly, we all need to watch our skin for changes that may indicated malignancy. If you don't know what those early signs of skin cancer are, read on and learn from the experts at Connecticut Coastline Dermatology where Dr. Marco Petrazzuoli and his team know what to look for and how to treat it.
The kinds of skin cancer in Milford
There are three basic kinds:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Malignant melanoma
Caught in their earliest stages, all are curable. Basal cell develops deep within the epidermis while squamous cell grows more on the surface of the skin.
Malignant melanoma also grows deep within the skin and definitely is the most aggressive kind, spreading rapidly to the lymph nodes and other common sites of metastasis. Unfortunately, young people in their twenties seem most prone to melanoma because of excessive sun exposure and use of tanning beds.
Dr. Petrazzuoli detects skin cancers with visual inspection and with biopsy, or removal of the lesion and subsequent laboratory analysis. He offers various in-office treatments such as surgical excision, application of an electrical current (desiccation), freezing tumors (cryosurgery) and more. He firmly believes in careful selection of treatments and analyses the patient's overall health, risk factors and more.
What you should look for
Skin cancers often disguise themselves as simple moles. However, when you visually inspect your skin (monthly at home and annually at Connecticut Coastline Dermatology if you are 40 or older), you should use the ABCEs of moles as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.
A stands for asymmetry. If a mole changes shape on one side, this may indicate melanoma.
B stands for border. The edges of benign moles are smooth. Cancerous borders are notched or scalloped.
C stands for color. The color of a harmless mole or growth is even throughout. With cancer, color varies throughout the mole.
D means diameter. Any mole larger than six millimeters (or bigger than your pencil eraser) is suspicious.
E means evolving. A benign mole stays the same for years and years. Cancer changes quickly in color, size and texture. Also, it may bleed or itch.
Just be sure
You want the healthiest skin possible. So avoid the sun during peak times, wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and cover up when out of doors. Avoid artificial tanning, too.
In addition, see your dermatologist annually for a total skin check-up. it's great insurance against skin cancer. For an appointment at Connecticut Coastline Dermatology, call (203) 301-5860.