Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. It occurs more frequently in people with fair skin and light-colored hair and eyes.
Through the cancer program at El Camino Health, we aggressively treat your cancer using a personalized care plan.
The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. They usually occur on the head, face, neck, arms and hands. These cancers are generally highly treatable, especially if found early.
Another type of skin cancer, melanoma, is more serious but less common. Melanoma can grow quickly and spread to other organs. We have the greatest success in treating melanoma when we catch it early.
El Camino Health’s cancer program supports the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendations to lower the risk of getting skin cancer by:
- Wearing protective clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, pants and a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, whenever possible.
- Seeking the shade whenever possible, especially when the sun's rays are the strongest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Regularly using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 or higher on all exposed skin, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Routinely checking your skin, and examining your entire body closely — at least once a year — for moles or other growths that have changed or developed irregular borders.
- Asking your primary care doctor how often you should be screened by a dermatologist for skin cancer.
Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
As you check moles and other skin growths or spots, look for changes in color and size, irregular borders and growths that are asymmetrical.
If a mole looks suspicious, your doctor may do a biopsy. If cancer is diagnosed, the doctor will do one of the following:
- Surgery – Options include cutting out the tumor, scraping away tissue and cauterizing (burning) the wound to destroy tumor cells. Another option is Mohs surgery, which involves cutting off a thin layer of skin, examining the cells and repeating the process with another layer until all cancer cells are gone.
- Cryosurgery – Use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the cancer.
- Chemotherapy – Anticancer drugs administered as a cream, by mouth or by IV to kill cancer cells.
- Laser therapy – Uses light energy to destroy cancer cells, especially on the surface of the skin.
- Targeted therapy – Uses drugs that work to destroy cancer cells only, while preserving healthy cells.
In addition to advanced therapies, El Camino Health offers a variety of specialized services, support and assistance to address the psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of you and your family members throughout treatment and recovery.