According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies from skin cancer every hour in the United States – a good reason why everyone should schedule regular skin examinations. But you may ask, how do dermatologists know when a skin growth or mole needs to be removed?
Melanoma is the deadliest and most preventable skin disease. It is a skin cancer arising from melanocytes, skin cells that carry pigment also know as melanin, which gives skin its color. Melanocytes are the cells that also form benign (non-cancerous) moles known as nevi. The distinction between harmless moles and potentially deadly melanoma can be challenging even for the most experienced dermatologists.
Our skin goes through many changes as we age. Each stage is marked with some specific findings that are more or less common, but it is normal to ask: “What is happening to my (or my child’s) skin and hair?”
Infants: Seborrheic dermatitis, or “cradle cap,” is very common in infants. While the condition will generally pass with use of gentle cleansers, in severe cases a prescription medication may be necessary. It is also important not to confuse run-of-the mill cradle cap with a true fungal infection.
Although skin cancer has a lower incidence in patients of color, it can occur. The most common type of skin cancer varies based on your ethnic background, with African Americans being most at risk for squamous cell carcinoma. However while melanoma is often associated with people who have blue eyes and blonde hair, it also occurs in people with darker skin tones.
For reasons that are unclear, melanomas in African Americans most commonly develop on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and nails. Unfortunately, when these melanomas are discovered they are more aggressive at the time of presentation. The overall five-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent for Caucasians. Read more
The Mount Sinai Department of Radiation Oncology is now treating patients with superficial non-melanoma skin cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, and keloids, with a non-invasive and painless procedure, Superficial Radiotherapy. The procedure utilizes superficial x-rays that concentrate radiation dose on the skin surface. There are several advantages of using superficial radiation therapy to treat non-melanoma skin cancers and keloids, including:
I recently got a call from a man in Arizona who found my name on the internet while he was researching some skin cancer facts. He had seen that I had a particular clinical interest in the early diagnosis of melanoma on the lower extremity, and the foot in particular.
He asked me if when he goes to his dermatologist, should he have his feet looked at. It is interesting that many people do not consider the foot as a place that skin cancer, or for that matter, any kind of cancer can occur. Nothing could be further from the truth.