Skin Cancer

San Francisco Dermatology

Dermatologists located in Union Square, San Francisco, CA

Skin cancer becomes more common as you age, but can affect people of any age. Skin cancer is one of the most common and most treatable cancers, especially when caught early. At San Francisco Dermatology in downtown San Francisco near Union Square, Michael J. Dans, MD, PhD and Mark Reisman, MD, are dedicated to helping patients keep an eye on their skin cancer risk and providing outstanding skin cancer care. To schedule a consultation or a full-body skin check, book an appointment online through the patient portal or call the office.

Skin Cancer Q & A

What is skin cancer?

If you have skin cancer, it means you have abnormal skin cells that are harmful (malignant). Skin cancer is most likely to develop in areas of your skin that have been repeatedly exposed to the sun’s damaging rays. However, skin cancer can develop on any area of skin.

There are different types of skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, can have various appearances from a flesh-colored bump, to a red spot, to a scab, to an open wound appearing lesion. Basal cell carcinomas rarely spread and can often be removed with an in-office procedure.

Squamous cell carcinomas, the next most common type of skin cancer, can appear as firm red or white bumps or flat, scaly lesions. Though they’re slightly more likely to grow rapidly and spread than basal cell carcinomas, they can still usually be removed in your dermatologist’s office.

 One of the most serious types of skin cancer is melanoma. Melanoma can appear as many different skin abnormalities.  It is usually very dark since it arrises from the melanocyte cells, which are the pigment (skin color) producing cells. It may also be pink, especially in people with very light skin.  As opposed to regular moles, it is usually larger (about pencil eraser size or more) and often has an irregular shape or color pattern. It is more likely to spread, affecting other areas of the body and requiring more treatment.

How is skin cancer treated?

The first line of treatment for almost all skin cancers is surgical removal of the abnormal cells. Dr. Dans at San Francisco Dermatology can remove small, local cancers in his comfortable office. However, larger cancers may require anesthesia and surgery at a hospital or surgery center.

If your skin cancer has spread, you may also need chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. You may also benefit from radiation therapy, which uses high energy beams to destroy abnormal cells.

New melanoma treatments, such as immunotherapy, use your body’s own immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. These new treatments are giving many patients more treatment options than ever before.

Am I at risk for skin cancer?

You may be at higher risk for skin cancer if:

  • You have fair or pale skin
  • You live in a very sunny or high altitude climate
  • You have a long history of sunburns
  • You have many moles or a history of precancerous lesions
  • You have a family or personal history of skin cancer

To monitor your skin, San Francisco Dermatology recommends full-body skin checks at regular intervals such as every 1 to 2 years for patients without a history of skin cancer, or more frequently for patients who have had recent skin cancer. During these skin checks, Dr. Dans or Dr. Reisman takes note of any moles, lesions, or other areas of skin that may be cancerous or precancerous. Keeping track of any changes in these areas can help the team identify skin cancer early. 

You can rely on Dr. Dans’s expertise and experience with skin cancer. Dr. Dans earned his PhD in the field of cancer research and stays up to date with the latest science-based evidence regarding skin cancer prevention and treatment.

Know your risk for skin cancer. Book an appointment online through the patient portal or call the office today.