Scott: Can you talk about skin cancer a little bit more? What are some of the things that people need to look for, and how vigilant should they be with their own skin and bodies in keeping an eye on things?
Dr Jeanette Jacknin: There are several types of skin cancer. The most dangerous is a melanoma. It does not always arise in pre-existing moles, but it is generally in families with some abnormal looking moles called dysplastic nevi. If you have a family history, someone in your immediate family or extended family, that has melanoma you definitely need to go to the dermatologist every year for them to look at your whole body, including your scalp, your toes, between your toes, every bit of skin to be sure that you are not developing a new mole or a changing mole that would be melanoma.
The signs you look for in yourself at home, would be a change in the size, or the shape, or the color, going red or blue, or just growing rapidly. It is hard to tell a lot of the times, even a trained dermatologist can not tell without doing a biopsy, sending it to the lab. Although there are now numerous techniques to help the dermatologist to get an accurate assessment without sending off the biopsy. Then, the sun spots, are the little red scaling spots that most people get if they have lived in the sun. Those can go to cancer, not a basal cell cancer or a squamous cell cancer. Those need to be addressed, frozen off with liquid nitrogen, or treated with a topical cream so that they do not progress.
Scott: Mm-hmm. There is a genetic link though?
Dr. Jeanette Jacknin: With the melanoma. There is some correlation. Enough though that if you have a family member that has melanoma, you should go ahead and be checked every year.