Talk to Doctor About Suspicious Skin Lesions

That strange-looking spot on your skin may be a sign of something dangerous. If you are concerned about an area, talk to your primary care physician about a skin cancer screening.

“As with other cancers, you want to catch any kind of skin cancer early,” says Deborah D. Price, DO, FACOI, internal medicine physician, Saint Francis Medical Partner. “Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are usually very treatable, but they can spread if left untreated and have a higher chance of recurring in a different spot.”

Unusual skin growths that do not go away are most common for a nonmelanoma skin cancer. For melanomas, follow the ABCD rule:

Price_DeborahA is for Asymmetry: A mole that has two different-looking halves

B is for Border: Edges that are blurred, rough, irregular or notched

C is for Color: Changes in the shade or distribution of color throughout the mole

D is for Diameter: Moles that are usually larger than a quarter-inch across (some may be smaller)

When Saint Francis Healthcare System offered a free skin cancer screening in May, physicians discovered:

  • One patient with melanoma
  • Eight patients with basal cell carcinomas
  • One patient with squamous cell carcinoma
  • 98 patients with precancerous lesions

“The results of this screening show that some of these people were right to be concerned about skin cancer,” says Price. “Most primary care physicians can diagnose and treat certain kinds of precancerous lesions. If you have a suspicious lesion that requires a skin biopsy, we can refer you to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.”

In many cases, the only treatment necessary will be a simple removal of the lesion under local anesthesia. Then, follow up regularly with your physician to check for a recurrence.

“Talk to your primary care physician, and he or she can tell you whether your skin growth is concerning or not,” says Price.

For more information, call 573-331-3000.

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