Our Skin Cancer Care Services
Boulder’s Skin Care Specialists
Kallgren Dermatology Clinic is your top resource for skin health in Boulder. We’ve been providing medical-grade skin care solutions to people from around the Boulder area for nearly two decades, and our head doctors have even more experience than that. We can screen you for skin cancer signs and help you treat and alleviate a number of common skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and more!
We all love enjoying the Colorado sunshine year-round, but without proper skin care and regular skin screenings, the outdoor lifestyle Boulder residents are known for could be endangering your health. Call our dermatology clinic in Boulder to schedule a skin screening today!
Why It’s Important To Get Screened For Skin Cancer
Skin health, particularly getting you skin checked for the onset of cancers or other conditions, is an essential part of healthcare that many people overlook. According to Healthline, millions of people are diagnosed with skin cancers every year, and if left untreated, the diseases can spread throughout your body and have a significant impact on your health and your body’s aging. Skin cancer can impact anyone, even those who appear healthy!
Tans may have become incredibly popular in our culture, and even considered a desirable attribute in the beauty world, but in reality, a tan is a sign that your skin has taken a serious beating from the sun. Tanning is your body’s defense mechanism that activates in response to sun damage — any time your skin cells signal to your body that they have been damaged by the sun’s UV rays, your body’s natural systems respond by producing more pigment, turning the affected skin a darker, browner shade — thus, a ‘tan’ is developed.
Think of it like cooking a marshmallow over an open fire. Many aim to cook the marshmallow evenly, without igniting over the flames of the fire in order to achieve a nice “golden brown” marshmallow. When your skin is exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time, it either burns, or begins to develop a more golden-brown appearance. However, unlike marshmallows, it’s not good for your skin to get cooked. Any change in your skin’s color, whether as a tan or a burn, is an indication of your skin’s injury, not good health. This is incredibly important to note because you increase your risk of getting skin cancer every time you tan.
As we’ve been discussing, skin cancer is an increasingly common disease that can impact anyone’s life. However, there are people with certain characteristics that are preternaturally disposed to a higher risk for skin cancer. If you have white or light-colored skin that burns, freckles, or reddens easily from sun exposure, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. The same goes for individuals with blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, people of older age, and people with a family or personal history of skin cancer. You should also consider yourself to be at-risk for melanoma if you have upwards of 50 moles on your body, if you’ve had one or more blistering sunburns in your life, or if you’ve endured frequent or prolonged sun exposure.
Getting routine skin cancer screenings is essential for two key reasons.
First, because it is often difficult for novices to tell the subtle differences between everyday skin blemishes and the odd moles and discolorations that can be indicative of melanoma or skin cancer. As you’ll learn as you continue reading below, there are many different types of skin cancer, and the physical differences between their physical indicators on the body can be as subtle as the shape, size, or even texture of certain moles. Only a professional dermatology clinic will be able to distinguish the difference to properly evaluate your skin health and risk factors and give you clarity and peace of mind on your health.
Second, because early detection is essential for limiting the extent of the disease(s). While melanoma and other skin cancers are quite common, they are fortunately not often lethal — provided that skin cancer signs are detected and treated early to prevent the disease’s spread. Caucasian people are 20 times more likely to develop melanoma then people of African descent, however, roughly 95% of Caucasians survive melanoma, while just 70% of African Americans do. Regardless, the key to avoiding serious skin health issues and skin cancers is regular skin checks to facilitate the early detection of issues. Schedule a skin cancer screening to ensure the health of your skin!
Types Of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 80% of the approximately 3 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed per year are basal cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer is slow-growing and develops in the basal cell, the lowest part of your skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. Basal cell carcinoma most often develops in the areas of your skin that receive the most sun exposure, such as your head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma doesn’t often spread unless left untreated for a long period of time. However, those who do develop basal cell carcinoma once are much likelier to develop it again in the future.
Recurrent Basal Cell Carcinoma
While basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread through the body quickly, it is very likely to reappear on the body after it has been diagnosed and treated once. According to the American Cancer Society, half of all patients that are treated for basal cell carcinoma experience a recurrence of the cancer within five years of their first diagnosis. In other words, while this particular type of skin cancer isn’t as dangerous as other types, it is very difficult to keep away permanently once it has developed for the first time.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is another common type of skin cancer, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all skin cancer diagnoses. This type of skin cancer develops in your epidermis and most often affects a person’s neck, ears, face, and hands, but it can also be found in other areas, such as on scars, ulcers, or in your gential area.
Squamous cell carcinoma is only slightly more likely than basal cell to spread throughout the body, however, it is much more likely to penetrate deeper into your skin to your fatty tissue, making it more difficult to treat and remove.
Melanoma is a very complex type of skin cancer that requires expert care to treat. Melanoma develops in melanin, the pigment in your skin that protects your body from UV damage and controls your skin color. Because of this, melanoma is particularly dangerous — not only can it spread to other parts of your body quickly, but it can also develop in nearly any area on your body, including your eyes! To catch melanoma early, it’s essential that you get your skin checked at least once a year.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that develops in your skin’s nerve endings, often on the face or scalp. Merkel cell carcinoma is dangerous because it can metastasize to the brain, bones, liver, or lungs. Immunocompromised people over the age of 50 are more susceptible to merkel cell carcinoma than others.
Top Skin Cancer Signs To Watch For
Beyond annual skin health screenings at Kallgren Dermatology, one of the best things you can do to avoid skin cancer is to perform self-checks. Monitoring your skin for any changes or the development of any growths or discoloration will help you spot the symptoms that our dermatologists can evaluate and treat.
To perform a monthly self-check, examine your body in a full-length mirror in a well-lit room. Follow the ABCDE method:
- A — Asymmetry. Look for moles or birthmarks in which one half does not match the other in shape or size.
- B — Border. Check to see if the borders on any birthmarks or moles are irregular, jagged, or blurred.
- C — Color. If you see any irregularities in color on any moles on your body, call our dermatology clinic and schedule an evaluation.
- D — Diameter. You do not want any spots or moles on your body to exceed a quarter-inch in width. If they do, schedule a skin health screening.
- E — Evolving. If any of your moles, spots, or birthmarks are changing in size, shape, or color, get a dermatologist’s help right away.
Overall, you’re looking for the development of any marks or growths that seem unusual, or changes to any spots or moles you already have. We don’t expect you to be able to discern skin cancer symptoms from acne or natural skin imperfections, but if you spot anything on your skin that is changed or that looks abnormal, give Kallgren Dermatology Clinic a call. The combination of monthly self-checks and annual skin health screenings will help keep you healthy so you can continue to enjoy the year-round Boulder sunshine for years to come.
What To Expect At A Skin Cancer Screening
Now that you have a better understanding of the various types of skin cancers and why getting screened for them, we’d like to give you a rundown of how skin cancer screening work so that you have a better idea of what to expect when you come in to Kallgren Dermatology Clinic in Boulder for your appointment.
When you arrive for your appointment, you’ll be directed to your own exam room and asked to change into a hospital gown so that one of our dermatologists can inspect your entire body for potential signs of melanoma or skin cancer. Remember, skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body, including on your scalp, around or inside your mouth, on the soles of your feet, or even in your genital area. That’s why it’s essential for your Kallgren dermatologist to perform a thorough, full-body examination. We’ll check your body from head to toe, searching for any possible signs of skin cancer.
If you have any spots that are of particular concern to you, point them out to your attendant dermatologist, and they’ll gladly examine them for you. Oftentimes, the spots that concern our patients turn out to be little more than normal blemishes or dermatitis, which is something we can often prescribe treatment for. Still, with regards to skin cancer, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate to schedule a skin cancer screening if you notice something irregular on your skin.
Your entire skin cancer screening should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.
If we do identify any suspicious spots or moles during your skin cancer screening, we’ll determine based on appearance if it’s best to monitor the affected skin spot or remove it for testing. If we choose to leave the mole or skin patch and monitor it, we may also document the concerning spot and photograph it so that you can better gauge any changes to it over time.
If we find that a mole or small patch of skin is concerning enough to warrant removal for testing, we may be able to perform the removal during your appointment, or ask you to schedule a follow-up session. We’ll apply topical anesthetic as necessary to limit your discomfort, and we may need to apply a stitch or two after removal should the affected mole or skin patch be large enough.
We’ll then perform a biopsy on your skin sample, the results of which you should expect within a couple of weeks, along with follow-up instructions from your dermatologist.
And that’s how we perform skin cancer screenings at Kallgren Dermatology Clinic! The entire process is quick and effective, and afterwards, you’ll be glad you took the time to ensure your good health and safety. It may be an extra item on your agenda once or twice a year, but if any skin cancers do arise, you’ll catch them before they have the chance to have any significant impact on your health. So call our dermatology clinic in Boulder, and ensure the health of your skin and body today!