When it comes to cases of skin cancer, the Long Beach dermatologist is part of the treatment team that includes the oncologist, the radiologist, the chemotherapists and others. Skin cancer, or melanoma, is a potentially serious disease that is extremely aggressive and metastasizes quickly. If you are at risk, you should have one of your local Long Beach skin doctors examine you frequently, because like most forms of cancer, the various Long Beach skin cancer treatment options are most effective when the disease is caught in the earliest stage.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Although this disease can happen to anyone, there are certain risk factors that make a person more predisposed to the disease. These include:
excessive exposure to sun (natural or artificial)
fair skin (people of Nordic ancestry are particularly at risk)
scars or burns
taking immunosuppressive drugs
chronic skin inflammation or ulcers
People with a condition known as actinic keratosis, which is marked by thick, scaly and/or crusty patches of skin. This condition is not malignant by itself but can be a precursor to the disease.
What Are The Symptoms?
Signs of skin cancer may manifest themselves as any or all of the following:
small, raised, smooth and shiny patches of skin that have a waxy texture
small, raised, red or brown marks
unusual scaling or bleeding
sores that refuse to heal
These signs do not necessarily mean that you have a melanoma; however, you should not take any chances. There are many Long Beach skin doctors who have experience in this area, and they can tell you whether or not your condition is malignant.
How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
If there is a patch of skin that looks suspicious, the Long Beach dermatologist will need a sample, known as a biopsy. A small piece of the area is cut away and sent to a pathologist who will examine the sample under a microscope to determine whether or not cancer is present. Fortunately, melanoma is one of the easier forms of cancer to detect.
What are the Treatment Options?
If caught in the earliest stage, skin cancer is actually one of the easiest to treat – the offending tissue is simply cut away. This may not be the end of it though because there is always a chance that the cancer will recur; patients usually require ongoing monitoring to make sure that a few outlaw cells have not spread to other parts of the body.
If there is metastasis, chemotherapy and radiation treatments may be required. Long Beach skin doctors can educate you of what to expect and refer you to an oncologist for further treatment.by Susan Slobac