By Peter Saitta DO
How many times have you been suntanning with a large aluminum foil sun reflector with baby oil getting a killer tan? Most of us have and “killer” is a word I chose wisely. Statistically speaking, more than half of us will get a skin cancer because we have all been exposed to enough sun in our day-to-day lives to develop one. Therefore, it is pertinent that you understand the signs of skin cancer to help protect yourself.
The most common form is the Basal Cell Carcinoma, which often presents as an oozing pimple that never heals. Next, Squamous Cell Cancers are usually red and crusted and also do not heal. At their earliest stages, Squamous Cell Cancers can start with a gritty feel, almost like fine sandpaper.
These two most common forms of skin cancer are easily treated by a procedure called Mohs surgery, performed in-office by a small subset of dermatologists, that are not only board certified but also fellowship trained. The unique quality of this procedure is that is preserves the most amount of normal skin, which minimizes the scar after the skin cancer has been removed completely. As opposed to other treatment modalities that have a much lower cure rates, there is a 98-99% cure rate with Mohs surgery, which is why in most instances this is the gold standard. Not every dermatology office provides this service, but at The Skin Institute of New York, Dr. Sherry Hsiung, is our Mohs surgeon, with 15 years experience.
The next form of skin cancer is called Malignant Melanoma and, while it is not as common as the others, it can be deadly, and if not properly treated, can metastasize to your internal organs. Two-thirds of melanomas are actually pre-existing moles that have been present for decades. The most classic indicator that a mole has deteriorated into a melanoma is when the mole grows in a lopsided fashion, where one side asymmetrically grows larger than the other. Also, if the mole has two or more colors it is more likely to be malignant. Contrary to popular belief, melanomas are not easy to spot, which is why we use a highly sophisticated, painless instrument called a dermatoscope to help identify them. All of the dermatologists at The Skin Institute of New York, Doctors Brancaccio, Gruson, Hsiung, Karp, and Saitta, have been trained to expertly utilize these instruments.
Because skin cancers are common, everyone should see a Board-certified dermatologist at least once a year for a skin exam.
Skin Institute of NY
67 Perry Street, New York, NY