FAQ’s

Am I at risk for skin cancer?

Always remember that skin cancer can happen to anyone. However, if you meet even one of the following criteria, you may have increased risk.

  • You are fair skinned.
  • You have a history of significant sun exposure.
  • You have numerous moles or have had an abnormal mole.
  • You or your family’s medical history includes skin cancer.
  • Over half of all new cancers are skin cancers, so don’t hesitate to contact us for a full screening.

What can I do to minimize my risk of skin cancer?

Avoid ultraviolet light as much as possible. This includes sunlight as well as tanning beds. When you are in the sun, always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.

I’ve already had one skin cancer. What are my chances of getting another?

Studies have shown that individuals who develop one skin cancer have about a 50% risk of getting another one within the next five years.
If you have had skin cancer, preventative measures and regular follow-up visits with a dermatologist are incredibly important.

Now that I have been diagnosed with skin cancer, how should it be treated?

Every patient is unique, and the best treatment for your skin cancer will be based on your preference and the cancer itself. There are many ways to treat both basal cell and squamous cell cancers – the two most frequent forms of the disease. We offer many choices for treatment, including MOHS micrographic surgery and other options that represent the best and most current treatments available.

What are my chances of scarring following a biopsy or removal of a cancerous or non-cancerous skin growth?

It is impossible for any physician, regardless of experience or training, to remove a growth from the skin without leaving any scar. However, our team minimizes scarring through the use of advanced techniques. Several of our patients note their scars are so minimal they even have trouble locating them.

Your risk for noticeable scarring depends on many factors including the location of the lesion, your personal tendency to scar, the quality of post-procedure wound care, your avoidance of ultraviolet rays and other factors. Together, you and your treatment team can reduce the severity of your scars.

If I have a personal history of skin cancer, am I more likely to develop an “internal cancer” – one that’s unrelated to my skin?

Limited evidence suggests that patients who’ve had skin cancer may have increased risk of developing an “internal” cancer. While this link has not been firmly established in the scientific community, every skin cancer survivor should take appropriate measures to screen for other cancers and diseases. Consult your primary care physician and the American Cancer Society to be confident you’re doing what you can to stay aware and stay healthy.

How often should I have a skin examination?

This depends on your personal risk for skin cancer. In general, a yearly skin examination is a critical component of any health regimen. However, individuals with higher risk for skin cancer may need a head-to-toe screening more often.

Where can I go for a regular skin check?

We do perform routine screening examinations for moles, abnormal growths and skin cancer. However, if you were referred to our
practice by another dermatologist for skin cancer treatment, we recommend you continue to see that doctor regularly for further
skin cancer screenings.

Are tanning beds safe?

All ultraviolet light damages skin. It doesn’t matter if it comes from the sun or a tanning bed. Since exposure to ultraviolet light is associated with both skin cancer and premature aging, it is best to avoid tanning beds all together.

Are self-tanning creams containing dihydroxyacetone safe?

Based on all available data, self-tanning creams with dihydroxyacetone appear to be perfectly safe. They are a positive alternative to traditional tans that come from sunlight or tanning beds.

Don’t we need sunlight to make Vitamin D? Will my family become Vitamin D
deficient if we avoid the sun and wear sunscreen every day?

In general, no – you will not become deficient in Vitamin D by wearing sunscreen and avoiding the sun. We recommend a proper diet, a daily vitamin and minimal ultraviolet exposure in order to maintain total body health. Our dermatology team will help you make sure you and your skin are getting what you need.

What is an actinic keratosis?

An actinic keratosis looks like a reddish, scaly patch and occurs most often on the face, scalp, or arms of someone with a history of significant sun exposure. It is considered a “pre-cancerous” growth. On their own, they are not dangerous. If left untreated, they can turn into squamous cell carcinoma.

We routinely remove actinic keratoses as preventative therapy. They are typically removed with non-invasive measures, including liquid nitrogen therapy, topical medications, and photodynamic therapy.

What exactly is a dysplastic or atypical nevus?

‘Nevus’ means a mole. ‘Dysplastic’ and ‘atypical’ are used interchangeably and describe something abnormal. Therefore, a dysplastic or atypical nevus is a mole that may be benign but has some features indicating possible melanoma. A dysplastic nevus may meet one or more of the ‘ABCD’ criteria upon visual inspection but doesn’t result in a diagnosis of melanoma when biopsied.

Abnormal moles may or may not need to be removed depending on how worrisome their features are. Patients with a history of one or more dysplastic nevi have an increased risk of developing a melanoma. If this applies to you, keep a close eye on your skin and seek medical attention if notice new or changed moles.