Skin cancer develops in the epidermis, the top layer of skin. The leading causes are the exposure to harmful environmental influences like ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Having a tan might feel great in the moment, but exposure to the sun’s UV rays can lead to skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that having just five or more sunburns doubles your skin cancer risk.
Early skin cancer detection often enables a successful cure with minor intervention. At Jordan Valley Dermatology Center in South Jordan, Utah, dermatologist Douglass Forsha, MD, and our team offer skin cancer screenings, in-office and prescription treatments. Around 60% of patients who have been diagnosed with skin cancer will be diagnosed again within 10 years, so regular follow-up screenings are crucial.
When should you see a doctor about skin changes?
Everyone experiences harmless and benign skin changes throughout life, but you should visit Jordan Valley Dermatology Center immediately if you notice any changes after skin cancer treatment. Your post-treatment checkup schedule depends on the type and severity of skin cancer you had.
Basal cell cancers
Basal cell cancer grows slowly and usually doesn’t metastasize to other organs. Overall, basal cell cancers are easily treatable and have a good prognosis.
New growths can be detected easily with regular skin cancer screenings. The recurrence rate after initial treatment for basal cell cancer is about 5% over five years. Doctors recommend checkups every 6-12 months after treatment.
Squamous cell cancer
Squamous cell cancer grows more aggressively than basal cell cancer. It gradually destroys the surrounding tissue. If left untreated, it can metastasize to lymph nodes and other organs. Squamous cell cancer is easily treatable if it’s discovered early, before metastasizing.
Regular checkups after squamous cell cancer treatment are generally every 3-6 months for the first few years. Checkup intervals depend on each individual case. Our team at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center will discuss an appropriate surveillance schedule with you.
Melanoma cancers are less common than basal cell or squamous cell cancers. Different types of melanoma require different treatments. Some melanomas grow on the skin's surface for a long time and can be treated quite easily. Other types penetrate quickly into deeper layers of tissue and can soon spread through the blood and into the lymphatic system in the body. Melanoma can metastasize early and swiftly.
That’s why regular check-ups are essential. Dr. Forsha and our team create individualized aftercare schedules for each patient. If we remove early-stage melanoma, Dr. Forsha may call for a physical exam every 6 to 12 months for several years. If we treat melanomas that spread beyond the skin, a checkup schedule might begin every 3 to 6 months.
Recognizing signs of returning skin cancer
Skin cancer is unpredictable, but it’s more likely to return if it’s widespread and fast-growing. Early detection is key.
Skin cancer can return in the same place it started or come back elsewhere on your body. If you’ve already been treated for one type of cancer and it returns, we perform additional tests to identify whether the new cancer is different from what you had before.
Here’s what you can do to spot skin cancer’s return and avoid further skin damage that can lead to cancer.
Be on the lookout for any changes or irregularities in previously treated sites. Consult Dr. Forsha if you notice any changes.
Observe your body
Check your body monthly from head to toe, looking for new lesions or changing lesions that bleed or get bigger. A hand mirror will help you see everywhere.
Don’t skip any checkups or cancer screenings. Dr. Forsha and his staff at Jordan Valley Dermatology Center are expertly trained to identify and treat cancerous skin growths. Self-exams are critical, but make sure to visit us at your regular recommended intervals to detect recurrences early.
Be sun safe
Avoid UV exposure. When going outside, always use broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing like a wide-brimmed hat for protection. It is essential to take precautions every day to reduce your risk of recurring new skin cancers.
Dr. Forsha monitors you closely after skin cancer treatment. If you’ve had skin cancer once, there’s a good chance it will come back or that you’ll develop other skin cancers in different locations. 50% of a lifetime of sun exposure, occurs before 18 years of age. Be especially vigilant with sun protection of your children. Swim, play tennis, hike or golf, early or late in the day.
Call Jordan Valley Dermatology Center or send us a secure message today for a skin cancer screening.