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Skin Cancer

North County Dermatology Clinic

Dermatologists located in Lakeland, FL

It’s the most common form of cancer in the United States, but skin cancer is highly treatable if caught early enough. If you have a suspicious lump, mole, or spot on your skin, visit North County Dermatology Clinic in Lakeland, Florida. Timothy E. Knight, MD and our board certified Physician Assistants offer assessments and treatment for patients of all ages with common skin cancers. To book a consultation, call the office today.

Skin Cancer Q & A

What are the skin cancer types?

There are many types of skin cancers, which are classified as nonmelanoma or melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are common nonmelanoma skin cancers. If left untreated, they can grow quite large and cause disfigurement on or near the eyes, nose, or ears. Occasionally, these nonmelanoma skin cancers can be fatal, if left unchecked.

Malignant melanomas are fast-growing and aggressive cancers which often originate in pre-existing moles. However, they can also arise in previously normal skin tissue. They have the reputation of spreading quickly to vital organs in the body and are more likely to cause death than non-melanomas.

Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous skin lesions commonly found on chronically sun-exposed skin and appear as rough, scaly areas of the skin. They may be skin-colored, pink, or red, and sometimes have a white crust. Because actinic keratoses represent the early stages of squamous cell carcinoma, a specialist needs to remove them in a simple in-office procedure. Once these precancerous lesions progress to squamous cell carcinoma, a more involved surgical procedure is required.

What are skin cancer risk factors?

Risk factors may increase your likelihood of skin cancer, but they are not required for cancerous cells to form. The more risk factors you have, the greater the likelihood you’ll develop cancer. Some risk factors include:

  • Light-colored or freckled skin
  • Blue or green eyes, blonde hair, and red hair
  • Spending a lot of time in the sun
  • Multiple, severe sunburns in childhood
  • History of skin cancer
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Exposure to cancer-causing chemical agents,
  • Skin injuries from burns or friction
  • Suppressed immune system

People who use artificial tanning lights or booths are also more likely to develop skin cancer.

How is skin cancer treated?

In most cases, early detection and treatment are enough to avoid serious complications when it comes to skin cancer. If you have a suspicious mole or patch of skin, Dr. Knight removes a small piece of tissue to send away for a biopsy.

If the biopsy shows skin cancer, he then creates a treatment plan to remove all of the cancer cells. Your recommended treatment depends on the type, size, location, and stage of cancer. Dr. Knight may prescribe one or more of the following surgical or non-surgical skin cancer treatments:

  • Curettage: surgical procedure that scrapes out skin cancer using a small tool called a curette
  • Excision: surgical method that cuts out cancer and a margin of healthy cells around it; a specialist stitches the incision back together
  • Aldara®: a prescription cream applied to the skin to treat actinic keratoses and certain types of skin cancer

If the biopsy shows precancerous cells only, then cryosurgery using liquid nitrogen may be used to freeze and kill pre-cancer cells.

To request a consultation about a suspicious mole or patch of skin, call the office today.