Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States – affecting one in five Americans during their lifetime. Unlike other cancers, the cause of skin cancer is known – with most cases of skin cancer resulting from exposure to ultraviolet rays (either from the sun or tanning beds). Those most susceptible to developing skin cancer in their lifetime include people with a family history of skin cancer, and people who have skin that burns or freckles easily, blue or green eyes and blond or red hair. When diagnosed early, skin cancer is nearly always curable – which is why early detection, early diagnosis – and early treatment — of skin cancer through annual cancer screenings is of critical importance.

There are three different types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma:

  • Basal cell carcinoma. The most common and mildest form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma affects basal cells in the skin which are located on the deepest layer of the epidermis, and are more common on sun-exposed areas of the skin (but can be found anywhere on the body.) They are characterized by a small red patch or growth, or abnormal lesions/changes in the skin that look like open sores and won’t heal, and may occasionally bleed. Basal cell carcinoma should be treated immediately, and with proper treatment has a very high cure rate.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma affects squamous cells in the skin and occurs on the upper layers of the epidermis.  Squamous cell skin cancers most commonly appear on parts of the body frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, ears, lips, and neck. Some of the signs that squamous cells in the skin have begun to grow out of control and have become cancerous include an area that’s become rough, scaly, thickened and/or wartlike, or a skin sore that doesn’t heal over time. When found early and treated properly, most cases of squamous cell carcinoma can be cured and are easily and successfully treated with current therapies.
  • Melanoma. Known as the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma occurs when damaged skin cells begin to mutate rapidly and create tumors – and often occurs as a result of intense UV light exposure (either from the sun or tanning beds) that directly affect the melanin-producing skin cells in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanoma can develop within a mole that already exists on your skin or can appear suddenly as a dark spot that looks different from others on your skin. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial – when diagnosed and treated early, melanoma is highly curable. However, some types of melanoma tend to grow very quickly and, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the body.

The key to treating any type of skin cancer is early diagnosis and treatment. It is very important to watch for any signs of skin cancer, which can include a new mole, an unusual growth, or sores, bumps, scaly patches or dark spots that develop and don’t go away. In addition, it is important to see a dermatologist for annual skin checks and skin cancer screenings to monitor all suspicious moles, growths and skin conditions. Dr. Ros and her team are skilled and experienced in thoroughly checking all areas of your skin to determine whether further testing and treatment is needed. In addition, our Mohs surgeon, Dr. Parth Patel, is a fellowship-trained Mohs micrographic and reconstructive surgeon and board-certified dermatologist who specializes in the comprehensive treatment of skin cancer, and has performed hundreds of successful Mohs surgeries. Mohs Micrographic Surgery is now universally recognized as the most precise method for treating skin cancers, and is especially effective in cancers of the face or in other cosmetically sensitive areas due to the fact that it can eliminate virtually all cancer cells while causing minimal damage to the surrounding normal skin.

If you are concerned with any unusual mole or lesion/growth on your body or think you may have any symptoms of any form of skin cancer, early diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified dermatologist can make all of the difference. Contact us at either our North Bergen office at (201) 255-4046 or our Clifton office at (973) 472-1000 to schedule an appointment and/or arrange for a full body skin cancer screening, or email us.