Skin Cancer Screening/Treatments

The skin is the body's largest organ.  It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection.  Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D.  The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis (upper or outer layer) and the dermis (lower or inner layer).  Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin. 

Information from the National Cancer Institute indicates skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of 3 kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells:  Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells:  Round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes:  Found in the lower part of the epidermis, these cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment, causing the skin to darken.

skin image

During a skin cancer screening, we are looking for cancer before any symptoms develop.  This can help find skin cancer at an early stage.  When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat.   If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer.  

Typical skin cancer treatments include:  cryotherapy, topical medication, excision, Mohs surgery, or electrodesiccation and curettage.