Skin Cancer in Kirkland, WA
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States. Fortunately, it is highly curable when caught early and treated by a skilled doctor. Here at NW Face, Dr. Julie E. Voss, MD, provides skin cancer treatments to patients in the Seattle, Kirkland, and Bellevue areas. Dr. Voss uses the latest technologies and surgical techniques to effectively treat skin cancer and improve the lives of her patients.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is defined as a growth or tumor of abnormal cells within the skin. These abnormalities can occur anywhere on the body and can range from fairly routine to extremely serious. Although there are many different types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and other nonmelanoma growths are seen the most. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer but is fortunately quite uncommon.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It occurs in the basal layer of the skin, which is the lowest part of the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is a nonmelanoma cancer that develops from the squamous cells comprising the majority of the epidermis.
Melanoma develops in melanocytes, which are the skin cells that generate the brown pigment we refer to as melanin. Melanocytes darken when they are exposed to the sun. Although melanoma is a rare type of skin cancer, it is considered the most deadly form of the disease and it can spread to other areas of the body if not discovered quickly.
Causes of Skin Cancer
The top cause of skin cancer is sun damage to the skin from harsh ultraviolet radiation. Tanning beds, which involve the use of concentrated UV rays to darken the skin, are just as bad if not worse in terms of skin cancer risk than being outdoors without sunscreen.
Being exposed to the sun during the winter puts people at the same risk for skin cancer as exposure during the summer months. Other less common, yet possible causes of skin cancer include scars from disease or burns, repeated exposure to x-rays, and exposure to certain chemicals at work.
Risk Factors of Skin Cancer
While anyone may develop skin cancer, individuals with fair or freckled skin that is prone to burning as well as those with light hair and eyes are at the greatest risk. A family history of skin cancer, a personal history of sunburns, an outdoor occupation, and/or living in a warm, sunny climate may also increase an individual’s risk of developing skin cancer. High-risk patients need to be especially diligent about protecting their skin and checking for abnormalities on a regular basis.
Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Patients who notice any type of change in their skin may be seeing signs of skin cancer. These changes include sores that do not heal, moles that change their shape or color, crusty and scaly lesions, itching, and pink or white colored lumps that are shaped like a dome. The ABCDE acronym can help patient pinpoint skin changes which may indicate skin cancer. A is for asymmetry, B is for borders, C stands for color, D is for diameter, and E stands for elevation. Any of these changes could signal that some form of skin cancer is developing.
Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
It’s important to check your skin on a regular basis to look for any changes in the size, shape, or color of existing spots and to monitor for new or unusual growths. Patients in Kirkland, Bellevue, and Seattle who discover anything suspicious on their skin should visit our office for a skin cancer screening as soon as they can.
To diagnose skin cancer, Dr. Voss will analyze the area of skin in question and perform a biopsy. A biopsy involves numbing the area and removing a small amount of tissue so it can be examined more closely. The tissue will then be evaluated under a microscope to determine whether or not skin cancer is present.
Skin Cancer Treatments
Skin cancer treatments depend on the type, size, and location of the lesions. Here at NW Face in Kirkland, we may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Topical treatments include options such as photodynamic therapy, topical therapy, and immune response modifiers. They are usually an option in the early treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers or actinic keratosis (precancerous growths) and can remove or destroy localized skin cancer cells. Topicals are often paired with other treatments.
Chemotherapy may be a viable treatment for patients with advanced skin cancer. If Dr. Voss recommends chemotherapy, she will select the appropriate type and design an individualized treatment tailored to the patient’s needs.
Targeted therapy involves seeking out gene mutations or other characteristics of cancer cells and using drugs to kill them or to optimize other treatments such as chemotherapy. Patients with rare cases of advanced basal cell carcinoma or melanoma may benefit from targeted therapy.
The most common treatment for a variety of skin cancers is surgery. During a surgical procedure for skin cancer in Kirkland, Dr. Voss removes cancer cells as well as a “margin” or a tiny amount of healthy surrounding skin to ensure that all the cancerous tissue is removed.
Many surgeries are outpatient procedures and can be performed under a local anesthetic. The length of a skin cancer procedure depends on the location and severity of the tumor. However, most skin cancer surgeries last half a day or longer. Dr. Voss encourages patients to bring reading materials and tablets to entertain themselves while they wait for the tissue to be processed. Patients should also bring a snack or lunch on the day of surgery.
Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill any remaining skin cancer cells. It may also be an effective treatment in the event that cancerous growths return after initial treatment. External beam radiation therapy is a common form of radiation therapy, which directs beams of radiation from outside of the body to the cancer cells inside the body.
Preventing Skin Cancer
There are a number of ways you can protect your skin and help prevent skin cancer. First and foremost, you should keep your time in the sun to a minimum and avoid tanning beds, especially if you are at high risk of developing skin cancer. If you are planning on going out in the sun, you should generously apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater and reapply every two to three hours.
If possible, it’s a good idea to refrain from going outside between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm when the ultraviolet radiation is at its peak. Smoking can also be a risk factor for skin cancer as it interferes with normal blood flow in the skin. If you are a smoker, you should make every effort to quit. Quitting has many health benefits, including reducing your risk for skin cancer.
Finally, you should check your skin regularly for any abnormalities. Most skin cancers are very treatable if caught early.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Cancer
Where can skin cancer appear?
Skin cancer usually appears on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face, neck, chest, and arms. However, it may be found anywhere on the body, including the genitals and other areas that do not normally receive sun exposure.
Can skin cancer spread?
Some types of skin cancer can spread to other tissues. Melanoma is a rare type of skin cancer that does have the potential to spread and become deadly. Fortunately, if the cancer is detected early, the chance of a cure is very high.
Can indoor tanning cause skin cancer?
Yes! In fact, indoor tanning is one of the most common causes of skin cancer. This is because tanning beds expose the skin to concentrated artificial UV rays. Patients who like the tanned look are encouraged to use alternatives to tanning beds such as sprays or lotions. Makeup like bronzer or tinted moisturizer can also create a tanned appearance without harmful exposure to the sun.
How serious is melanoma?
Although melanoma is the most serious type of cancer, it can be treated successfully if it’s caught early. If left undiagnosed, melanoma may spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs and lead to death. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 7,230 individuals will lose their lives to melanoma in 2019.
Are individuals with dark skin prone to skin cancer?
While skin cancer is most common in patients with light skin and light features such as blonde hair and blue eyes, those with dark skin can still get skin cancer and should take similar preventative steps to ensure good skin health.
Is it possible to inherit skin cancer?
Although it’s not possible to inherit skin cancer, certain skin cancers such as melanoma may occur as the result of genetic mutations.
Is tanned skin healthy?
Contrary to popular belief, tanning does not indicate a “healthy glow.” Tanning exposes a person to harmful UV rays that damage the skin and raise their risk of melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.
What is actinic keratosis?
Actinic keratosis refers to a scaly, rough patch of skin that is usually seen in older individuals and is caused by years of sun exposure. Even though most actinic keratoses remain benign, there is a chance that this condition can develop into skin cancer.
What will Dr. Voss consider before designing a treatment plan?
Dr. Voss will take several factors into consideration prior to designing and recommending a treatment plan for skin cancer patients in Kirkland. She will consider the type and location of a patient’s skin cancer lesions, their age and overall health, the patient’s preferences, and possible side effects of treatment.
Why Choose Dr. Voss at NW Face
Dr. Julie Voss of NW Face in Kirkland is a skin care specialist who has helped patients from all over Bellevue, the Eastside, and the Seattle Metro area with a variety of skin cancers improve their condition and protect their health. She takes great pride in designing customized treatment plans and using cutting-edge technologies as well as the latest surgical techniques to create optimal outcomes.
If you are seeking skin cancer treatment in Kirkland, Bellevue, or Seattle, you are sure to be impressed with Dr. Voss, her compassionate care, and her extensive knowledge on the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer.
Schedule a Skin Cancer Consultation at NW Face
If you’ve found a growth on your skin that you suspect might be a sign of skin cancer or if you’ve been recently diagnosed with the disease, it is in your best interest to schedule a skin cancer consultation with Dr. Voss at NW Face Medical in Kirkland. Call our office today at 425-522-0555 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting you!
- Address 3105 Carillon Point Kirkland, WA 98033
- Phone (425) 522-0555