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Early Signs of Skin Cancer

Early Signs of Skin Cancer

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, caused by DNA damage that triggers skin mutations. The dermatological evidence has shown that early detection of skin cancer is critical to minimizing the negative impact to your health. In some cases, skin cancer can lead to death, with melanoma leading as the type presenting the greatest risk to health.

Types of Skin Cancer

The primary skin cancer types are:

  • Melanoma


According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, the survival rate in the following 5 years after early detection of melanoma is 98%. Early detection refers to catching the disease before it reaches the lymph nodes.

early detection of skin cancer - Early Signs of Skin Cancer

Preventing Skin Cancer: Early Detection

Suncoast Skin Solutions understands the value of early detection of skin cancer. Many dermatologists recommend a full-skin exam solely for high-risk patients. This includes patients that have a family history or individual history of melanoma, have fair skin with red or naturally blonde hair, numerous moles on the skin, unusual skin growths, and/or a history of sunburns or other UV exposure.  At Suncoast Skin Solutions, we recommend a full body exam for all patients to support early detection and intervention. While sun exposure is a primary risk factor, areas of the skin not exposed to the sun can also develop skin abnormalities. If growths are found to be abnormal, your dermatologist may remove moles or other growths during the same visit. Any growths that may be cancerous will be sent to a lab for testing.

Preparing for a Full-Body Skin Exam

Patients often ask what is involved in a full-body examination. Being prepared and understanding the process helps alleviate any anxiety patients may experience. Our team assures patients that their comfort is of utmost importance and we take the time to listen to any concerns or areas of discomfort. Our dermatologists are skilled in identifying suspect spots, moles or areas of concern. We also can inspect one area of the skin at a time, keeping the other areas covered, which is generally more comfortable for patients.

4 Full-Skin Examination Preparation Tips

  • Take the time to set the appointment. Remember early detection has significant health benefits.
  • Perform a self-check at home. Note any areas of concern, document your questions, and bring them with you to the examination. If a mole or other skin growth has changed in color, texture, and/or size, let your doctor know. If you are able to take photographs of rashes, moles, or other skin conditions, bring them to review with your physician. Rashes may not be presenting at the time of the examination.
  • Bring any family history with you related to skin cancer. The more detailed information you have, the better. The type of skin cancer is helpful for the dermatologist to know.
  • Share your skin care regimen and which products you use on your skin.

Suncoast Skin Solutions is accepting new patients. Our Florida dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County , BrandonLutzWinter HavenLargoRiverviewBrooksvilleOcalaSarasotaPalm Harbor and Daytona Beach Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376.

Florida Dermatologist FAQ’s: Actinic Keratosis (AK) Treatment And Prevention

Early detection and prompt treatment can address almost all actinic keratoses (AKs) before they develop into skin cancer

In case a doctor suspects an AK to be a pre-cancer, they may take some tissue for a biopsy by shaving off a portion of the AK with a scalpel or scraping the lesion with a curette (a surgical tool that has a sharp ring-shaped tip). 

Additionally, the physician may use the curette to scrape off the base of the lesion. They will control the bleeding by applying trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or using an electrocautery needle. The patient will need local anesthesia for this procedure.

Suncoast Skin Solutions, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski, provides safe and proven skin care treatments to patients in Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, and surrounding locations in Florida.


Treatment Options

Various treatment options are available to address actinic keratoses, depending on the age and medical condition of the patient as well as the nature of the growth. These treatment options include the following:

Surgical Procedures

  • Cryosurgery: The doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the actinic keratosis to freeze the tissue. After this, the lesion and adjacent frozen skin may blister or develop a crust and fall off. 
  • Curettage and desiccation: The doctor will shave off or scrape a part of the entire lesion. Then they will apply a chemical agent or heat to stop the bleeding and potentially remove any residual AK cells.
  • Laser surgery: The doctor will utilize a strong light to vaporize the tissue of the AK. 

Topical Treatments

The doctor may prescribe a topical cream, gel, or solution for patients with numerous or widespread actinic keratoses. These can treat both visible and invisible lesions with minimal risk of scarring. This treatment is also called “field therapy” as the topical treatments can address a wide field of skin compared to targeting a single lesion. 

  • 5-fluorouracil (Carac, Efudex, Fluoroplex): A form of topical chemotherapy
  • Chemical peel: These peels are known for reversing signs of photoaging. But chemical peels can also eliminate some superficial AKs on the face, particularly when other techniques have not been effective. This procedure involves the application of trichloroacetic acid and/or similar agents to the face, which causes the superficial layers of skin to slough off. 
  • Diclofenac (Solaraze) and hyaluronic acid: A combination topical therapy.
  • Imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara): This form of topical immunotherapy encourages the immune system to produce interferon, which is a chemical that combats cancerous and precancerous cells.
  • Ingenol mebutate (Picato): This is a fast-acting topical treatment developed from plants. An immunologic mechanism of action has been proposed.

Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is very effective on widespread lesions on the face and scalp. This dermatology procedure involves the application of a light-sensitizing topical agent to the lesion. After this, the doctor will use a strong light to activate the topical agent. This helps in the removal of actinic keratoses without any damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. 

Combination Therapy

The treatment of AKs may involve the use of combined treatments for a span of time. The topical medications and PDT may be prescribed alternately every three months, six months, or one year, as adjudged by the doctor at the follow-up skin examination. 

Dr. Ewanowski’s skin care clinic receives patients from Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, and nearby areas in Florida for advanced and innovative skin care procedures.

SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz (2 locations), Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, Largo at Bardmoor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Palm Harbor, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.

Preventing Sun Damage To The Skin

Florida residents and visitors enjoy spending time outdoors in the sun appreciating its warmth and light. Excessive sun exposure coupled with unprotected skin can cause significant damage. Ultraviolet radiation in the forms of UV-A and UV-B rays can result in sunburns and long-term skin complications.

Your risk of sun damage you depends on these primary factors:

Length of Time in Sun

Time of Day

Skin Type

Protections in Place

protecting skin outdoors - Preventing Sun Damage To The Skin

Length of Sun Exposure

Genetics, skin type, and environmental factors each play a role in determining your optimal time duration to spend in the sun. As a general rule, the thicker and darker the skin, the longer it takes for the ultraviolet rays to cause harm.

Sun exposure can cause damage rapidly to individuals with fair skin. If you have a fair skin type, the best practice is to apply sunscreen before going outside each day.

Consider the UV Index

For those with skin types that offer more protection, check the UV index in your area for the day and times you plan to be outdoors. If the UV index is in the high or very high range, it is best to go ahead and apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. If it is in the moderate range, you should spend only 20 minutes or fewer without protection. There is a health benefit in receiving some sun exposure, as it has been shown to strengthen bones, improve sleep, and elevate the immune system. Ask your dermatologist about your personal risk factors and best practices to mitigate the risks sun exposure poses.

Sunscreen Protection Essentials

Sunscreen is a key form of protection against harmful rays. The type of sunscreen you select is important. Be sure to use a broadspectrum or fullspectrum sunscreen, which provides both UV-B and UV-A protection. When considering swimming or going to a local splash pad, use a water-resistant product and reapply as needed.

Common Questions About Sunscreen and Sunburns

When can babies safely wear sunscreen?

What is the difference between sun blocks and products that are adsorbed into the skin?

Which ingredients should I look for or avoid in a sunscreen?

Are tanning booths less damaging than the sun’s direct rays?

Do swimsuits with UV protection help reduce exposure?

Which SPF is best in a sunscreen?

When a sunburn has occurred is there anything that can be done to minimize the damage that occurred?

After a sunburn, will abnormal skin growths appear right away?

Does make-up provide protection from the sun’s rays?

At Suncoast Skin Solutions, our dermatology office staff is glad to answer any questions you have. We have a variety of effective sunscreen products available onsite.

Time of the day

Avoid midday sun exposure to the sun if possible. Stay out of the sun or be sure to use sunscreen from the hours of approximately 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this time, the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn are strongest.

Skin Type and Sun Damage Risk

On the basis of complexion, skin types can be divided into four major categories:

*fair skin *light brown skin *brown skin *dark brown or black skin

Fair skin – People with light eye color, hair, and freckles face a very high risk of sun damage. Fair skin does not tan, burns quickly, and has a high tendency to develop melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

Light brown skin – People with light brown skin have a moderate risk of sun damage. They tend to tan well, burn minimally, and have a lower risk of developing melanomas than people with fair skin.

Brown skin – People with predominantly brown eyes and hair have a reduced risk of sun damage. They tan quickly, rarely get sunburns, and present a low risk of sun damage complications.

Dark brown or black skin – People with deeply pigmented skin have the lowest risk of sun damage.

Key Steps to Preventing Sunburn

  • Stay indoors during midday hours (i.e., between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
  • As a general practice, wear broad or full-spectrum sunscreen or use sun block. Apply sun protection products on your skin daily before going outside.
  • Protect your exposed skin areas with clothing when you are going outside.
  • For eye protection, wear sunglasses that filter UV-A and UV-B rays.

If you notice any symptoms of sunburn or skin changes that concern you, make an appointment with a dermatologist or your primary care physician. If your are initially examined by your primary care doctor, you may be referred to a dermatologist for further consultation. It is a good practice to have your skin thoroughly examined every six months. A full-skin screening from a trusted dermatologist at Suncoast Skin Solutions can help remedy the damage caused by the sun and help prevent the development of more serious complications such as skin cancer.