Skin Cancer Diagnostic in Katy, Sugar Land, and Houston, Texas
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in general. A new or changing lesion, especially if symptomatic, warrants being evaluated by a professional.
Patients with fair skin, especially those who have family history of skin cancer or those who had blistering sunburns during the first 2 decades of life. Similarly, patients who have received immunosuppressive therapy or transplantations are predominantly susceptible to develop skin cancers.
Very importantly, tanning bed use is directly correlated with increased risk of skin cancer development.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, occurring typically in exposed areas. Basal cell carcinomas have different shapes and colors that range from pink patches to pink pearly papules or brown papules with rolled borders. These tumors tend to ulcerate and bleed easily.
Basal cell carcinomas can be locally destructive and invasive but rarely metastasize to lymph nodes or other organs.
Based on the location, size and microscopic features Basal cell carcinomas can be treated with electrodessication and curettage (scrapping and burning) of the skin, excision with conservative margins 4mm-5mm margins or micrographic (Mohs) surgery. The use of imiquimod cream or photodynamic therapy is an alternative for superficial BCC.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer that predominantly occurs in sun-exposed areas. These skin cancers have the capacity of invading tissue and in some situations they can metastasize to local lymph nodes or distant organs. A pink papule with scale or a non-healing ulcer show be promptly evaluated by a dermatologist as treating these lesions prematurely is much easier than treating advanced disease.
Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma depends on the depth of invasion and microscopic features. Superficial disease can be treated depending on the location and size with electrodessication and curettage, topical 5-fluorouracil, surgical excision with 4mm-5mm clinical margins or micrographic (Mohs) surgery.
Mole Checks, Dysplastic Nevi and Melanoma
Nevi (moles) are proliferations of melanocytes, or cells that give pigment to our skin/hair. Nevi can occur since birth (congenital nevi) or more commonly, can be acquired throughout the first 40 years of life.
Melanocytes are vulnerable to environmental factors including ultraviolet light, which induces mutations that lead to abnormal proliferations of these cells. Moles with acquired mutations can change color, size and appearance, prompting a dermatologic evaluation.
At Houston Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, we are committed to provide you with the most comprehensive skin exam. A complete skin exam includes the scalp, oral mucosa, breasts, ears, genital and anal area, palms, soles, fingers toes and lymph node palpation. Our doctors will always be accompanied by a chaperone, and will always make you feel comfortable.
We use dermoscopy (magnified examination with polarized light) to evaluate all suspicious lesions.
These are some guidelines to screen for abnormal moles:
- Asymmetry (one side of the mole does not match the other side)
- Borders (regular and well-defined borders are preferred)
- Color (single is better than multiple colors)
- Diameter (lesions >6 mm should always be screened)
- Evolving (lesions that have changed in size, texture, symptoms, that are itchy or bleeding should always be examined)
It is important that men and women with fair skin, history of multiple blistering/non-blistering sunburns, current or prior use of tanning beds, personal or family history of atypical moles or melanoma or those who have been treated with radiation or have had a transplant, should have a full body skin exam at least ONCE a year.
Melanoma is the malignant counterpart of proliferating melanocytes. They typically have abnormal features clinically and microscopically. In order to make a diagnosis a deep shave (scoop) biopsy needs to be made and based on the pathological features the tumor can be treated by our office or referred to a cancer center for further evaluation and management.