Understanding Skin Cancer
Living in the Sunshine State is wonderful, but too much of a good thing, like the sun, can cause skin damage, including skin cancer. Skin cancer begins in the cells that make up the outer layer (epidermis) of your skin and is the most common cancer in the United States. Although it is typically caused by overexposure to UV light, including sunlight and artificial UV light from tanning beds, areas of your body that weren’t exposed heavily to UV light can also be affected.
If you have already received a skin cancer diagnosis, you may have already had a biopsy and/or surgery to remove the cancerous area. When the dermatologist feels that the cancer has started to grow deeper or spread to nearby areas of the body, additional treatment from an oncologist is needed. They will create a specific plan for you based on the type of skin cancer, where it’s located, and the stage of the cancer. Reviewing the information in this section is a good first step before meeting with the oncologist.
Scheduling a Skin Cancer Oncologist Appointment in Brevard County, Florida
At Cancer Care Centers of Brevard, you will have a team of skin cancer specialists working together to determine the best treatment options after learning more about your specific type of skin cancer and your lifestyle. In the meantime, remember to protect yourself while you’re outside by wearing sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and even long sleeves. It goes a long way to reduce your risk of developing additional new skin cancers in the future.
How Skin Cancer is Diagnosed
Most skin cancers are found either by patients or during annual skin check exams by doctors. If there are concerns about a suspicious spot, a skin sample is tested. Sometimes, the entire area is removed and sent to be examined by a pathologist to determine if it’s cancer or not. If cancer is confirmed, the doctor may remove more tissue around the area to ensure the complete removal of cancer cells. Further treatment from medical or radiation oncologists will be discussed if necessary.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are two primary categories of skin cancer — melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but tends to spread quickly. Knowing what type of skin cancer you have is important because it will affect your treatment options and the timing of the treatments.
Skin Cancer Staging
The oncologist will review the information about the size of the skin cancer that was removed as well as the type and how deep it had grown into the top layer of skin. They may need some additional information, such as a lymph node biopsy or images, to see if it’s spread to other areas of the body. Based on this information, the oncologist will determine the extent (stage) of the disease to plan the best treatment for you. Staging is a process to learn the tumor size, how deep it has grown under the top layer of skin, and whether it has spread.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
There are several ways to approach skin cancer treatment, and you might not need all the treatment types described here. Non-melanoma skin cancer can often be removed, and that’s all that’s necessary, especially if caught early. However, if it has progressed or melanoma is present, additional treatments like radiation therapy and topical chemotherapy may be needed to stop the growth of cancer and hopefully avoid future cancers from developing. What’s right for you will be determined by the oncologist, who will work together with the dermatologist or primary care doctor.
Make Sure You Know How to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk
Certain factors can put you at a higher risk of developing a type of skin cancer. Living in Florida, the sun is likely a big part of your life. While the bright rays may be good for your mood, excess UV light exposure could lead to problems down the road. The good news is that the more you know about skin cancer risks, the easier it can be to reduce your risk–or at least detect cancer early when it’s easier to treat. See what you can do.
Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Melanoma typically presents as a new spot or a change in an existing mole's shape, size, or color. But, it can also appear on seemingly normal skin, so it’s important to pay close attention to your moles, freckles, and birthmarks by checking your skin monthly to help catch something before it becomes problematic. Being aware of the warning signs of skin cancer and knowing when to see a doctor to have a potential problem looked at can help with early detection and more effective skin cancer treatment.
The Latest Skin Cancer Treatments are Available in Brevard County
If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with a type of skin cancer, the skin cancer doctors at Cancer Care Centers of Brevard are here to help you through your journey. We offer the latest treatments for skin cancer available, including clinical trials, with personalized treatment plans tailored to you. Our cancer centers are located throughout Brevard County, including Palm Bay, Rockledge, Melbourne, and Merritt Island, FL.