The importance of early diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer patients in Washington
At Braun Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, VA, we advise everyone to be proactive about skin cancer prevention. Every time you apply sunscreen or opt to wear long sleeves and a wide brim hat, you are lowering your risk of skin cancer. Unfortunately, it is impossible to eliminate the risk entirely, which is why early diagnosis and treatment are essential.
Why early detection matters
Melanoma is one of the less common forms of skin cancer. However, it is by far the deadliest, and it is becoming more prevalent. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, new diagnoses of melanoma increased 53 percent in just ten years. They estimate over 180,000 new cases annually, claiming over 9,000 lives.
Like any disease, there are many factors that will affect a person’s chances of surviving. These may include age, other existing medical problems, lifestyle, and more. However, one of the most significant factors is how early the cancer is detected.
Survival rates for melanoma according to the American Cancer Society:
- Early detection – A local cancer means the tumor is still confined to the organ it originated in. When speaking of melanoma, local means that it has not yet spread to organs beyond the skin. Patients diagnosed at this early stage have a 99 percent survival rate, five years post-diagnosis.
- Detection after cancer has spread – Cancer that has spread to other organs or lymph nodes near the original tumor is called regional. When melanoma is diagnosed at this stage, the five-year survival rate drops to 63 percent.
- Detection in advanced stages –When cancer has spread throughout the body, involving organs or tissues in regions of the body far from the original tumor, it is known as distant. At this stage it is very difficult to stop, and the five-year survival rate plummets to just 20 percent.
How skin cancer is diagnosed
As you can see, when skin cancer hits, time is of the essence. The sooner we find it, the sooner – and more effectively – it can be treated. That is why we recommend a three-part approach to monitoring your skin health.
- Screening – You should see a dermatologist for cancer screening at least once a year. The trained eye of a professional can spot abnormalities that you might not notice. Additionally, even with the help of mirrors, it is quite difficult to closely inspect every inch of your own body.
- Self-check – Often, patients can spot cancers that form between annual screenings. You should establish a schedule of regular self-checks. Enlist the help of a partner or use mirrors to check your entire body. If you aren’t sure how to self-check or what to look for, please ask us for advice!
- Awareness – Don’t ignore your skin. When showering, dressing, or looking in the mirror pay attention and take note of any abnormalities you notice in your skin.
If you suspect a spot might be skin cancer, don’t take chances. Schedule an appointment right away. Your dermatologist will begin with a visual examination. If he or she determines that the lesion might be cancerous, the next step is often a biopsy. This simple and minimally-invasive diagnostic procedure is performed right here in our office. We will remove a tissue sample from the affected area and send it to a laboratory for evaluation.
If skin cancer is diagnosed
It is extremely important to have a caring, compassionate dermatology team who will take the time to talk, listen, understand your concerns, answer your questions, and be there for you every step of the way. It is equally important to have a highly skilled dermatologist with the clinical expertise to provide the care you need.
Braun Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center is a patient-centered practice, known for gentle treatment and excellent customer service. Our team includes fellowship-trained in Mohs micrographic surgery, a procedure used for certain skin cancers that provides the highest cure rate. You can feel confident knowing your treatment is in skilled, caring hands. Call us at 202-293-7618 to schedule an appointment.Back to Home Page