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Skin Cancer The Woodlands

There are 3 main types of skin cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. Over a million people a year are diagnosed with BCC. BCC often occurs on sun-exposed areas like the face, ears, chest and upper back, but it may also occur on areas of the body that have not had much sun exposure. BCC often times looks shiny and pearly, but it may also look like a pimple that won’t heal or a rash. Although basal cell carcinoma does not typically spread to other parts of the body (metastasize), it does grow, scab and bleed locally, and it can be very destructive to deep structures. When caught at an early stage, it is straightforward to treat, and is done so in the office.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer.

The areas of the body affected are similar to basal cell cancer. Squamous cell cancers can look like a red scaly rash, a wart-like growth, a thick, crusty scab or a bleeding sore. Although not frequently, squamous cell cancers can spread (metastasize) and they must be treated. Most of the time, treatment is straightforward and performed in the office.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.

Even so, if diagnosed and removed while it is still thin and limited to the outermost skin layer, Melanoma is almost 100% curable. Once the cancer advances and metastasizes (spreads) to the other parts of the body, it is hard to treat and can be deadly. During the past 10 years, the number of cases of melanoma has increased more rapidly than any other cancer. Over 51,000 new cases are reported to the American Cancer Society each year, and it is probably that a great many more occur and are not reported.

Melanoma is a malignant tumor that originates in melanocytes, the cells which produce the pigment melanin that colors our skin, hair and eyes, and is heavily concentrated in most moles. The majority of melanomas, therefore, are black or brown. However, melanomas occasionally stop producing pigment. When that happens, the melanomas may no longer be dark, but are skin-colored, pink, red, or purple. Invasive melanomas are the more serious, as they have penetrated more deeply into the skin and may have traveled from the original tumor through the body.

The best treatment is early detection.

If a melanoma is detected, treatment is guided by how deep in the skin the melanoma is.

There is an easy way to remember some warning signs of melanoma:

The information below comes from the Melanoma Research Foundation:

  1. Asymmetrical Shape
    Melanoma lesions are typically irregular, or not symmetrical, in shape. Benign moles are usually symmetrical.
  2. Border
    Typically, non-cancerous moles have smooth, even borders. Melanoma lesions usually have iregular borders that are difficult to define.
  3. Color
    The presence of more than one color (blue, black, brown, tan, etc.) or the uneven distribution of color can sometimes be a warning sign of melanoma. Benign moles are usually a single shade of brown or tan.
  4. Diameter
    Melanoma lesions are often greater than 6 millimeters in diameter (approximately the size of a pencil eraser).
  5. Evolution
    The evolution of your moles(s) has become the most important factor to consider when it comes to melanoma. Knowing what is normal for YOU could save your life. If a mole has gone through recent changes in color and or size, get it checked out by a dermatologist immediately.

Dr. Anita Arora Gill trained at MD Anderson Cancer Center and is very experienced in monitoring for signs of melanoma. If you would like a skin examination, please contact Gill Dermatology at 936.760.3373. Everyone should have a minimum of a once-yearly total body skin examination. In addition, Dr. Anita Arora Gill recommends doing body checks at home.

Click here for a step-by-step guide to doing a body check, courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation.