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Skin Cancer


Every 2 or 3 weeks in my practice, I hear a variation of this story: "Dr. Swinehart, my aunt had a changing mole two years ago and showed it to someone else, who said that it was 'nothing.' A year later, she saw a dermatologist who diagnosed melanoma and removed it. However, it has now spread to her lungs and liver, and she is in the hospital receiving chemotherapy."

Obviously, in our practice, we try to prevent that from happening!

Ultraviolet light increases 4% for every 1,000 feet in altitude. Therefore, in Denver, we have approximately 20% more ultraviolet, and at 10,000 feet, we have 40% more. Add that to the outdoor lifestyle, reflection from the snow, and sand, and 300 days of sunshine per year, and our skin cancer rates are among the highest in the nation!

Most sun damage originates in childhood and becomes manifest (either as wrinkles or cancer) years or decades later. Sunscreens are important now, but you may not have used them as a child.

What do you look for in a spot on the skin? Any change may indicate trouble: Itching, bleeding, crusting, color change, enlargement, irritation, or even a "sixth sense" that something may be going on with one of your moles. Please do not take chances - have us examine them!


  What's Your Diagnosis: Benign or Malignant??
BASAL CELL CARCINOMAS
are often painless, pink bumps, sometimes with a shiny appearance and sometimes scaling or crusted. They can erode deeply into the skin.

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SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMAS
are thicker, scaly or warty growths in sun exposed areas. These can occasionally spread to other areas of the body.
ACTINIC KERATOSES(precancerous)
are the precursors to these tumors.

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MALIGNANT MELANOMAS
(malignant moles) can possess irregular borders or colors; only 20% come from pre-existing moles. These can be deadly if they spread.

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