May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month!
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and the incidence of skin cancer is increasing in the United States in all age groups. Reduce your risk with these tips:
- Yearly skin exams by a dermatologist help to detect early skin cancers.
- Wear SPF>30 sunscreen daily. Reapply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days.
- Wear protective clothing when outside.
- Seek shade when outside, especially between the hours of 10am and 4 pm.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet and vitamin supplements.
With early detection and proper treatment the most common skin cancers are 95% curable. So schedule your screening today and prevent skin cancer!
Common Types of Skin Cancer
Actinic Keratosis (AK)
These appear as dry, scaly spots. They are considered the earliest stage of skin cancer. AKs can progress to Squamous Cell Carcinoma, so they are usually treated. They form on skin that gets a lot of sun exposure, such as face, scalp, neck, forearms and hands.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most common type of skin cancer, and, in fact, is the most common type of cancer in the world. It presents as a white or pearly bump that may bleed if disturbed. BCC develops in sun exposed areas. If left untreated, it will enlarge and may damage normal structures in the area. It almost never spreads to distant parts of the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
This is the second most common type of skin cancer. It usually presents as a red, scaly area that may or may not be tender. If left untreated, it will grow larger. If left too long, or if the growth pattern (determined by biopsy) is aggressive, this type of cancer can spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Most often, however, it does not.
This cancer is less common, but is the most serious of the three. It usually presents as a new or changing mole, but can present as a red bump. Depending on the depth of the tumor (determined by biopsy) and growth pattern, it can spread rapidly to lymph nodes, the lungs or the brain. Most melanomas spread laterally for some time, making the likelihood of catching it at an early stage greater. Some, however, start their lives growing deep and fast, and even with early intervention, may spread.
In most patients these three types of skin cancer are associated with past and current sun exposure. It is important that you protect yourself from the sun, to help prevent further skin cancers or pre-cancerous changes. If you have had one of these cancers, you will need follow-up visits to a dermatologist throughout your life. This is to check for new cancers and to make sure the original cancer does not recur.
What are the warning signs of Melanoma?
A change in an existing mole or a new dark mole that develops is often a first sign of melanoma. The ABCDE warning signs of melanoma can help detect change:
A - Asymmetry
B - Border irregularity
C - Color change
D - Diameter >6mm
E - Evolution or change in an existing mole
Sun Exposure, light skin, family history of skin cancer, types of moles, number of moles
Regular Skin Exams are Important
With early detection and treatment, the cure rate for SCC and BCC is 95%. If melanoma is detected before it spreads, the cure is also high. Regular skin exams by a dermatologist help patients find skin cancer when they are most treatable. Younger patients are developing skin cancer because of tanning bed use. If anyone has had a significant tanning bed use history, they should be screened in their 30s.
Tips for Protecting Your Skin
1. Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days.
2. Sun avoidance if possible or seek shade when outside between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm.
3. Wear protective clothing
4. Vitamin D can be maintained with healthy diets and vitamin supplements.
5. AVOID tanning beds
If you have any questions or concerns about skin cancer or moles, please call our office at 225-214-3199 to make an appointment with Dr. Laci Theunissen.
Dermatology at Bocage
Dr. Laci Theunissen, our board certified dermatologist, is an expert in treating and preventing diseases of the skin, scalp, hair and nails. In addition to treating common skin conditions such as acne, warts, moles, eczema, psoriasis and skin cancer, patients have access to many specialized treatments and services, including:
- Laser Hair Removal
- Vein Reduction
- Tan Towel
Meet Our Provider
Dr. Laci Theunissen, MD
Board Certified in Dermatology
Laci Theunissen, MD earned her degree in medicine from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine and completed her internship at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, both in New Orleans. She performed her residency in dermatology at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center in Oklahoma City.
If you need to find a dermatologist in Baton Rouge, make an appointment today by calling (225) 214-3199, or request an appointment using your MyChart account. If you are a new patient, please click here to download the new patient forms. Print, complete and bring with you on your first visit.
Dermatology at Bocage
7855 Jefferson Hwy.
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
Phone: (225) 214-3199
Fax: (225) 214-8011