DERMATO-ONCOLOGY

 

 

What is Dermato-oncology?

Dermato-oncology is the branch of Dermatology that is focused on the early detection and clinical diagnosis of the various skin cancers as well pre-cancerous skin conditions. Consequently, it plays essential role in the primary and secondary prevention of the skin cancers.


Skin cancers represent abnormal growth of the skin and often associated with exposure to sun. There are several types of the main skin cancers and the most common ones are the Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and Melanoma.

Actinic keratosis (AK) is the pre-cancerous condition that can evolve into Squamous Cell Carcinoma(SCC). Each skin cancer and pre-cancer  are unique and can be differentiated from each other. It is important to make a distinction between each type as this will guide the further management.

Melanoma

Melanomas are rare but aggressive type of skin cancer that can occur at almost any age. It looks like an unevenly shaped brown mole, which can have irregular borders and colors. This skin cancer can be aggressive, so early identification and treatment is key, since it has the potential of spreading to and infiltrating the internal organs.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. It typically occurs on areas of the skin that has been exposed to sun. It forms as a pink, pearly raised nodular lesion. It rarely spreads to other organs, but can turn into an unhealed wound with crusts that eventually will destroy underlying important structures of the body.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a condition that is considered a premalignant condition. It is characterized by an area of the skin that is often pink, rough, and scaly. They are found on the sun exposed areas. This condition must be treated because the significant number can progress to SCC.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer after BCC. It usually appears in sun-exposed areas as a scaly non-healing patch, plaque, or nodule. It can spread to other internal organs and; therefore, surgical treatment is warranted.

Skin Cancer Treatments

Skin cancer typically starts out as a changing mole or a new non-healing skin lesion. For the screening and the diagnosis of the skin cancer, Dermatologist often uses special tools that allow to distinguish suspicious skin lesions. One of the most accepted methods of skin diagnosis is the Dermatoscopy or Epiluminescence Microscopy that uses special magnifier with a polarized and non-polarized light for skin assessment. If the skin lesion exhibits any suspicious characteristics, then a skin biopsy is taken in order to confirm the Diagnosis. The treatment of the Skin Cancer includes following options:

Treatment & Managment

The treatment of choice depends on the type of the skin cancer, size, and locations. Small skin cancers are often treated in the Office whereas larger ones, more aggressive and/or located in the so called “danger zones” are removed in the hospital settings.

The management, prevention and treatment of skin cancers starts with surveillance. It is important to identify whether you are at risk of developing skin cancer. Risk factors include Caucasian skin type, family history of skin cancer, excessive sunlight exposure and numerous moles. If you have any of these risk factors and suspicious lesions, it is recommended to see a Dermatologist for further assessment.