Skin cancers — including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma — often start as changes to your skin. They can be new growths or precancerous lesions — changes that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Learn to spot the early warning signs. Skin cancer can be cured if it’s found and treated early.
If one of our doctors detects an area that looks suspicious, the doctor will need to keep a close eye on that area. Your doctor will put you on a follow up program and check on that suspicious area and catch the cancer early in it’s progression.
How Do I Know if a Mole Is Suspicious?
Skin cancer often gives us visible warning signs that can help with early detection. One of these signs is an irregular mole. When performing self-checks, keep the ABCDE rule in mind.
If your mole has any of the following signs, it should be checked by our board-certified dermatologists:
- Asymmetry: One part of the mole doesn’t match the other.
- Border: Your mole has irregular, scalloped, or blurred edges.
- Color: The color of your mole isn’t uniform and contains several shades of brown, black, pink, white, red, or blue.
- Diameter: The spot is larger than your other moles at about the size of a pencil eraser.
- Evolving: Your mole is changing color, shape, or size.
While most moles are benign, any spots with these suspicious symptoms should be examined during your skin cancer screening and removed as needed. Additional warning signs of skin cancer include itchiness, tenderness, swelling beyond the border of your mole, oozing, bleeding, or a sore that won’t heal.
What Conditions Can Be Mistaken for Skin Cancer?
At Harris Dermatology, we often see patients who fear they have skin cancer but actually have a minor or harmless condition. For example, seborrheic keratosis is a benign tumor frequently mistaken for cancer since it looks similar to an irregular mole. Similarly, cherry angiomas can look like suspicious skin lesions, but these bright red bumps on the skin are typical in patients over forty years old and are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels.
Other conditions, like psoriasis, cause uncomfortable, dry, scaly patches of skin. Getting an accurate diagnosis is important since we can often manage psoriasis through light therapy, topical treatments, and oral medications.
Actinic Keratosis vs. Skin Cancer
Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, is one of the most common suspicious lesions our practice sees. Only about 10 percent of actinic keratosis becomes cancerous, but of that, most cancers that develop are squamous cell carcinoma.
Fortunately, with minimally invasive treatments like cryotherapy, chemical peels, and laser therapy, most actinic keratosis can be removed with virtually no downtime. If you notice these scaly tan, light pink, or brown patches, book a dermatologist appointment with our Naples or Fort Meyers, Florida providers to find out more about your removal options.
How Do Dermatologists Remove Suspicious Lesions?
If our providers believe your suspicious skin lesion is cancerous or precancerous, we’ll recommend prompt treatment. Thanks to advanced technologies and surgical techniques, removal is easier than ever.
Some options for treating suspicious lesions include:
- Shave excision: Our dermatologist will use a small blade to shave away the outermost layers of the skin and remove the lesion. This technique may not require any stitches.
- Simple scissor excision: This technique can also be used on more superficial skin lesions. During this excision, our dermatologists will carefully remove the lesion with curved surgical scissors.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation: This superficial removal technique involves scraping or cutting out a skin lesion and using an electrical current to clear the area further.
- Skin excision: If the lesion has grown into deeper layers of the skin, we can remove the tumor and some surrounding tissue to ensure clear margins before closing the area with stitches.
- Laser excision: Laser or light therapy treatments heat the skin lesion until it’s destroyed.
- Cryotherapy: This works similarly to laser excision but freezes the tissue to eliminate it.
- Mohs surgery: If your lesion is diagnosed as cancer, this skin-sparing technique removes thin layers of tissue and tests them until only healthy skin remains.
Each skin lesion excision method is typically performed under local anesthesia and requires little to no downtime.
Book A Skin Cancer Screening For Your Suspicious Lesions!
If you have noticed suspicious lesions on your body and are worried about the potential implications, please be sure to schedule a skin cancer screening appointment at one of our two Florida offices. Call (239) 936-3344 for our Fort Myers office, or (239) 596-1848 for our Naples office. You can also fill out the Appointment Request Form on this page. Our top dermatologists looks forward to serving you!