Make Skin Cancer Treatment a Priority
Just like you, we’ve been getting messages from all sides and sources encouraging all of us to stay at home for just a bit longer.
We know patients are concerned. People are wondering, is it okay to go to the dermatologist if they have a suspicious lesion? How long they should postpone much-needed skin cancer surgery? Whether it’s safe to go the doctor? Or, safe to wait?
Midwest Dermatology respects your concerns. Here, we’ll try to peel back the layers to some of these thorny questions and address the essential reasons to visit your dermatologist.
What we are really talking about here are priorities. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that makes it necessary for all of us to balance all of our various healthcare needs.
Let’s start peeling this onion by talking about types of skin cancer. The need for immediate attention is often decided by the diagnosis.
The highest cancer on the priority list for dermatologists is Malignant Melanoma, a deadly cancer that can aggressively spread to other parts of the body. If you have a history of melanoma or a suspicious mole or skin lesion, seeing your dermatologist is a high priority.
Melanomas come in all shapes and sizes, but will often appear as a strange looking mole. The warning signs use the first five letters of the alphabet so they’re easier to remember:
- A is for Asymmetry.Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves won’t match. Asymmetrical lesions look different than common moles, which are usually symmetrical.
- B is for Border.Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
- C is for Color.Multiple colors, like different shades of brown, tan or black, are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have multiple colors. As it grows, red, white or blue shades may also appear.
- D is for Diameter or Dark.While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size around of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some lesions, no matter what size they are, may be considered suspicious if they are darker than the others around them.
- E is for Evolving.Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom – such as bleeding, itching or crusting – may be a warning sign of melanoma.
We have appointments at all six office locations for melanoma screenings. If you have a history of melanoma, your Midwest Dermatology specialist requests that you return to the office on a regular basis so your skin can be checked for any atypical moles or signs of melanoma recurrence.
Be assured, all of our offices are taking precautions to ensure patient safety, including patient screening, disinfection and physical distancing. Call (402) 552-2555 or click here to make an appointment in our online booking system.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA (SCC)
In terms of skin cancer, we consider squamous cell carcinomas another top priority.
Squamous cell cancer typically stays in the skin. But left unchecked and untreated, its rapid growth potential can allow it to spread deeper and become deadly, as well as result in serious disfigurement.
Watch for these warning signs of squamous cell carcinoma:
- A persistent, scaly red patch with irregular borders that sometimes crusts or bleeds.
- An elevated growth with a central depression that occasionally bleeds. It may rapidly increase in size.
- An open sore that bleeds, or crusts and persists for weeks.
- A wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds.
If you have been putting off treatment for a known SCC since this pandemic began, it’s time to talk with our office about how to get in and be treated.
Midwest Dermatology’s team can look at suspicious lesions using tele-health, but we cannot use important diagnostic tools, such as a skin biopsy, or offer treatment such as highly effective Mohs surgery, without seeing you in person.
So, if you have a suspicious lesion, consider whether you have any existing health problems that would put you at high risk to be seen in the office, and let us know. We will take extra precautions to schedule your appointment first thing in the morning.
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA (BCC)
Basal Cell Carcinoma is by far the most common type of skin cancer and that high level of occurrence part of the problem.
In United States, dermatologists diagnose more than four million cases of Basal Cell Carcinoma annually, and typically do that through in-office visits and a close-up visual examination of a patient’s skin.
If you have spent time in the sun throughout your life, you are at risk of developing Basal Cell Carcinoma. To zero in on your risk, take a look at the warning signs:
- An open sore that does not heal, and may bleed, ooze or crust. The sore might persist for weeks or appear to heal and then come back.
- A reddish patch or irritated area, on the face, chest, shoulder, arm or leg that may crust, itch, hurt or cause no discomfort at all.
- A shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or clear, pink, red or white. The bump may also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-skinned people, and can be mistaken for a normal mole.
- A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center that may develop tiny surface blood vessels over time.
- A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color. The skin appears shiny and taut, often with poorly defined borders. This warning sign may indicate an invasive BCC.
While there are some unusually aggressive types of Basal Cell Carcinoma, most are not fast growing. But like Squamous Cell Carcinoma, untreated BCC can grow large and cause considerable damage to the skin. In rare cases, they can even spread to underlying tissue and bones – which is why we don’t like to let them go untreated.
An option for those unable to leave the home is Midwest Dermatology Teleheath – virtual e-visits and Zoom teleconference visits that can be done from the home. If you have a suspicious lesion and want some reassurance, or want to get an evaluation to speed along the biopsy process, check here to see if your doctor participates.
If you are in good health otherwise, but have a suspicious lesion, or are long overdue for a skin cancer follow-up, we recommend a visit to the Midwest Dermatology office. You can trust that our expert team will use responsible measures to provide you with a safe examination.
If you have put off a visit since the beginning of our key stay-at-home period, we understand. But as restrictions relax, we want to see you soon so we can help ensure your long-term well-being.
Skin cancers affect all types of people, and the medically sound dermatology care provided at Midwest Dermatology is the best defense there is against it. So, contact us via phone, on-line booking or our teledermatology feature and lets work together to get you the care you need now and in the months to come.