What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in humans. Over 5.4 million skin cancers were treated last year. 1 out of every 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

Skin cancer is caused by the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes DNA damage in your skin cells. The skin cells, over time, start to grow abnormally. Skin cancer is preventable with sun protective behaviors and sunscreen.

There are many different types of skin cancer. The three most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Most people have heard about melanoma because it is the most deadly, but it is not the most common. By far, the most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Did you know?

  1. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, your risk of developing another skin cancer in 5 years is 50%.
  2. Daily sunscreen (SPF >15) use can decrease your risk of developing melanoma by 50%.
  3. Greater than 80% of non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas) occur on the head and neck. This is because the head and neck are constantly exposed to the sun. It is important to protect yourself with sunscreen and a broad-brimmed hat.

Skin cancer risk factors:

  • Indoor tanning
  • Sunburns
  • Skin type (fair/blond hair, blue eyes)
  • Cumulative sun exposure (UVA & UVB rays)
  • Genetics (family history of skin cancer)
  • Atypical moles

How to Prevent Skin Cancer?

Sun protective behaviors include the following:

  1. Daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA+UVB) with an SPF of 30 or greater. On cloudy days, 80% of UV radiation is hitting you.
  2. Sun protective clothing: UV sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats
  3. Seek shade or create your own – go for the shade under a tree, umbrella, or cabana
  4. Do NOT use tanning beds or sunlamps. The FDA labeled these carcinogens, meaning cancer-causing devices.
  5. Monthly self-skin examinations
    • Make sure you look everywhere, including your back, the back of your legs, your scalp, the bottoms of your feet, and in between your toes.
    • Use a hand mirror and full-length mirror to examine your back and the back of your legs.
    • Ask your hairdresser or a friend to look at your scalp.
    • Take photos with your smartphone; this provides a permanent medical record you can later use as a reference to see if a mole has changed.
  6. Annual skin exams by a board-certified dermatologist.

How to take high-quality photos for your Skin Doctor:

  1. Make sure you are in a well-lit room with lots of light. Natural light is the best.
  2. Take your time and make sure the photos are in focus. When you zoom in, the photos should still be clear and not blurry. If the photo is blurry when you zoom in, the camera didn’t focus on the correct area.
  3. Then, take photos of an entire area, such as the left upper back, left lower back, right upper back, right lower back, left upper arm, left lower arm, etc.
  4. Next, take a close-up photo of the concerning spot. We recommend taking close-up photos with your camera 1 foot away from the lesion. A common mistake is to have the camera too close to the spot of concern.
  5. After you take these photos, look at them and zoom in to ensure they are not blurry.

Brandon T. Beal, MD, is an expert in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. He is a Double Board-Certified Mohs Surgeon and Dermatologist, fellowship-trained Mohs Micrographic Surgeon, dermatologic oncologist (cancer doctor of the skin), and plastic facial reconstructive surgeon.

Dr. Beal completed his dermatology residency at the Cleveland Clinic Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Institute and his fellowship in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, dermatologic oncology, and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Zitelli & Brodland, PC. Dr. Beal trained at the Cleveland Clinic’s Melanoma program, a multidisciplinary team of dermatopathologists, pathologists, dermatologists, and surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists.

Dr. Beal provides each patient comprehensive counseling on the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, a thorough skin examination from head to toe, and an individualized treatment plan based on evidence-based medicine. Dr. Beal is an expert in Mohs Micrographic Surgery (Mohs Surgery), which is the treatment that provides the highest cure rates, greater than 99% for most skin cancers. He follows the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines and the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging guidelines.

Mohs Surgery & Mohs Procedure St. Louis

Mohs Micrographic Surgery offers the highest surgical cure rate among all treatments for skin cancer. This technique preserves your normal skin, focusing on removing skin cancer, minimizing scarring, and maximizing your cosmetic outcome. Mohs Micrographic surgery is the most advanced treatment for skin cancer.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the only surgical technique that examines 100% of the margin (edges) of the specimen (skin cancer) that is removed. This means that 100% of the side and bottom edges of the specimen are examined microscopically to confirm that there are no skin cancer cells at the edges. This provides patients with the highest cure rates, the smallest scars, and the best cosmetic outcomes for their skin cancer.


Schedule a Visit