Last week we discussed a few tell-tale signs for identifying the three most common types of cancer. We’ve decided this week to give you a more visual clue as to what you should look for. From the image above, the left image represents Basal Cell Carcinoma, the center image shows Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and the right-most image shows Melanoma. These images are just clues – everybody will exhibit unique signs and your skin may not have these exact features. However, they are a good way to tip yourself off to something that’s more than a mole, scab, or wart. Should you find any blemishes resembling these on your body, we strongly recommend coming in to see us for a diagnosis. Even if you feel you are not at risk, we also recommend everyone at least get an annual full body skin screening.
Millions are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and the median age is getting lower: people as young as 18 are getting diagnosed with skin cancer.
Three types of very common skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma. All of these are easily treatable, although if Melanoma is not detected early enough, it could lead to serious complications.
A few telltale signs of the common skin cancers should be considered before you come in for a diagnosis, since a painful skin biopsy is the only way to guarantee a diagnosis. For Basal Cell Carcinoma, be on the lookout for raised, smooth, pearly bumps around the head, neck, or shoulder areas. It often resembles a sore, but fails to heal. For Squamous Cell Carcinoma, look for red, scaling, thickening patches of skin in sun-exposed areas. Melanoma appears as dark, either brown or black, lesions. Be observant of any moles changing size, shape, elevation, or color.
Everyone will have to fight with acne. Nobody is born immune to it because all of our bodies excrete oil and all of us have pores with the potential to clog. The most common form of acne is called Acne Vulgaris and presents predominantly on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. Severe cases of acne may result in scarring, a small percentage of which can be permanent even with laser and other corrective treatments. To prevent such a situation from happening, it’s important to stay on top of Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s do’s and don’ts when it comes to acne prevention.
There are several risk factors to be aware of when it comes to triggering an acne outbreak. Wearing oil-based cosmetics can clog pores quickly; if you wear makeup, be sure to remove it at night. If possible, try natural cosmetics instead of chemical-based products. Pricking pimples is difficult not to do, but it’s important to realize this action can worsen acne and even infect the pricked area. There are some triggers more difficult to control, like your level of emotional stress, pregnancy, the period preceding menstruation, or your level of testosterone. A few ways to prevent acne breakouts are available to everyone, though. Drinking 2 liters of water each day is enough to keep you hydrated and your pores from clogging. Making sure you’re eating a healthy diet is important not just for acne prevention, but your health overall. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, foods low in fat, and make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
Prevention is not always enough. When acne does flare up, what are your options? Most people opt for skin cleansers, over-the-counter medications, or prescribed oral drugs. Skin cleansers contain the ingredient salicylic acid in varying concentrations which serves to unclog pores. Over-the-counter medications serve the same purpose, with benzoyl peroxide leading the pack in topical acne treatments. Oral drugs serve to reduce the production of oil, kill bacteria, and control inflammation. They range widely in potency with Accutane being the strongest.
Modern acne treatments bypass these three options by offering luxurious experiences like Microdermabrasion or Laser treatments. Microdermabrasion peels the top layer of skin off affected areas, resulting in open comedones (blackheads) and unclogged pores, eliminating acne. Laser treatments use a low-level beam to burn oil-producing glands, eliminating clogged pores and killing any bacterium. We also offer a variety of facials at our Skin Medics™ Medical Spa to cleanse the pores and give your skin a softer, smoother look.
With all this knowledge at your disposal, we hope you will come see us at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta for all your dermatological needs. We’re happy to answer any questions you have and are willing to give you the treatment you deserve.
Some of the tips provided in this post were derived from this website and we thank them for their ideas!
A handheld microscope is in development stages at Vanderbilt University, meant to help doctors get a better idea when a biopsy is necessary. As of right now, biopsies are always necessary to determine whether or not a blemish on the skin is cancerous. If successful, this handheld microscope will streamline the process in diagnosing cancers – a practice all too backed-up by sheer volume of diagnoses.
The microscope works by using a laser light to illuminate the patient’s skin instead of regular white light. This helps form an image of the skin’s cellular structure and based on how the individual cells reflect the laser light, can determine the cell’s chemical composition. This is called spectroscopy and is the backbone of the microscope’s technology, as the compositions found on the patient can be compared to known strings of cancer.
The final product is still in research & development stages, but if the technology proves beneficial, this microscope may be found in offices worldwide and could greatly improve cancer detection, prevention, and treatment.
Melanoma is the most deadly variety of skin cancer. If not detected early, it becomes increasingly difficult to treat. In the past, ways to diagnose melanoma were limited – skin biopsies are standard practice, but patients have to be concerned enough about a spot on their skin to come in and see a doctor. A new technique using genetic markers is proving highly accurate, even in cases where traditional biopsies gave ambiguous results.
This new diagnosis technique emerged from researchers identifying around 1,000 human genes present in different stages of malignant melanomas as opposed to benign moles. These were narrowed down to five genetic markers showing higher activity in melanomas; using these as a base, previously diagnosed tissue samples of melanoma were examined and the result was clear: the melanomas had a statistically significant jump in protein production compared to benign moles, making this technique a reliable indicator of melanoma. The proteins themselves even showed different patterns of activity between the two types of tissue, creating a second, unexpected, diagnostic indicator.
The accuracy of this new technique is proven in research – 95% accurate in diagnosing benign moles and 91% accurate in diagnosing malignant melanomas. Hopefully, this new technique is researched further and if it holds up over time will be adopted by doctors worldwide. It would most certainly aid in making treatment options available for patients in as efficient a timeframe as possible.
An article posted at MSNBC a little while back points to the possibility of tanning beds getting an interesting restriction placed on them; rather, teens under the age of 16 will have restricted use. Ever since a 15 year old girl suffered a bout with skin cancer, which she attributed to the tanning salon she began visiting, she has been pleading with lawmakers to restrict access to tanning beds for those 16 and younger. Seventeen states, including Florida and Hawaii, are considering this action. Minors would need a doctor’s note to use the beds in some states, although in others their use may be outright banned.
What we need to take away from this isn’t what is “right” or “wrong” in terms of lawmakers and the right for people to choose what to expose their skin to. What we need to remember, and is mentioned in the article, is that our skin, like all our organs, hasn’t matured while we’re minors. That is to say, it is more susceptible to things like skin cancer if exposed to carcinogens like those found in tanning beds. This is not up for dispute – this is the truth. The real dispute lies with what you choose to do with this knowledge.