Many of us love being out in the sun or laying back in a tanning bed – enjoying the warmth, soaking in the vitamin D, and developing a tan. However, prolonged exposure to UV light, also called UV radiation, can have serious effects on our health and skin. The most serious of these effects is skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in the USA.

Here in Rye Brook, Westchester, our specialist dermatologists offer consultations where they thoroughly assess your skin or moles for potential areas of skin cancer, as well as treatments for any skin cancer discovered. It is extremely important to monitor your skin for any changes and to consult a specialist if you develop anything that concerns you. The earlier skin cancer is detected, the better.

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What is skin cancer?

In its most basic sense, skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. These cancers occur frequently on skin that is often exposed to sunlight or UV (ultraviolet light) from tanning beds, though can occur in other areas of the skin that are typically covered. There are a number of types of skin cancer, and the most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

What causes skin cancer?

The most prominent cause of skin cancer is high or unprotected exposure to UV light. These UV rays damage the DNA in the skin cells, causing them to grow abnormally. Those who have lighter skin, are older, or are exposed to high amounts of arsenic are also at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

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What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

Skin cancers can appear in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers can often cause new spots, bumps, patches, growths, or sores that don’t heal, even after several weeks. An important warning sign of melanoma is a new spot on the skin or a spot that changes in size, shape, or color over a period of time. Any new spots that look different from the rest of your spots should be investigated too.

How is skin cancer treated?

To determine your treatment, our specialists in White Plains take into account the type of skin cancer you have, how far it has spread, and your general health. Depending on these things, skin cancer can be treated in a range of ways, such as with surgery, freezing, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or photodynamic therapy. However, the best way to treat skin cancer is to prevent it altogether.

Once method for treating skin cancer is Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove the skin cancer, while doing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

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How can I prevent skin cancer?

Since the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV light, it is crucial to take action to prevent skin damage due to this. You can still enjoy the sun in small doses, but our Westchester specialists recommend:

  • Using an SPF moisturizer or sunscreen, and re-applying regularly
  • Wearing a hat and sunglasses
  • Staying in the shade (especially when the sun is at its peak between 10 am and 4 pm)

A regular skin check or mole map is also advised, particularly for those with multiple moles, or who are at higher risk of developing skin cancer.

If you have a skin concern, a new spot that looks or feels different, or any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact us for a consultation with one of our specialists.

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