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Skin Cancer

Cancer is a condition in which certain cells stop growing in a balanced or organized way. Cancerous cells can spread to other organs or parts of the body through the circulatory, nervous, or lymphatic system. The process of spreading throughout the body is called metastasis. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith specializes in diagnostic studies and surgical and medical therapies that are invaluable to patients with epidermal cancers.

Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma represent the different types of skin cancer. Each variety of cancer is unique, presents various symptoms, and has different treatment methods. All forms of epidermal cancer and abnormal moles are serious skin conditions and require evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations from triple board-certified dermatologist such as Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta.


According to Harvard Medical School, epidermal cancers are on the rise. A million or more people in the United States learn they have one or more types of epidermal cancer every year. About 3/4’s have basal cell carcinoma. Doctors are also diagnosing more young people with skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most prevalent dermal cancer type according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. At least three-fourths of all cancers of the skin are basal cell carcinoma cases. Lesions grow in the top layer of skin, most often on the hands, face, or neck. Basal cell carcinoma is usually slow-growing and quite treatable: it seldom spreads to organs or other body areas. However, all suspected cancers of the skin can spread, cause disfigurement, or even loss of eyes, ears, nose, or fingers. A sore that bleeds, oozes, or is suddenly red or irritated, or a yellowish-whitish lesion that resembles a scar–with or without the incidence of a bump–should be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist such as Atlanta Dermatology Consultants. For more detailed information on Basal Cell Carcinoma, click here.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma cases represent up to twenty percent of all epidermal cancers. Men suffer this form of epidermal cancer almost twice as frequently as women. About three hundred thousand people are told by a doctor that they have squamous cell carcinoma every year in the U.S. This type of cancer most frequently presents on hands, ears, lips, neck, and face. Squamous cell carcinoma lesions often present as a bump that ulcerates (turns into an open sore that doesn’t heal), or a red, flat spot that scales or crusts over, or a bump that grows. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer is more likely to spread to organs, bones, or other parts of the body. Small, thin tumors are most easily and successfully treated. Approximately one percent of patients die from this form of cancer. For more detailed information on Squamous Cell Carcinoma, click here.

Abnormal Moles possess the potential to become cancerous. According to researchers at Harvard University, patients should remember the A-B-C-D’s of abnormal moles. Self-checks can help the dermatologist to identify abnormal moles before trouble starts. Look for:

  • Assymetric Shape, or uneven mole shape, can help to pinpoint an early problem. Most benign moles are generally symmetrical. Of course, assymetry doesn’t confirm that a mole is abnormal.
  • Borders may help to identify abnormal moles. Benign moles present smooth borders: there’s no even edge between the mole and surrounding healthy skin. Early cases of melanoma can demonstrate uneven or undistinguished healthy-to-pigmented skin appearance. A ragged, uneven, feathery, or notched border around the mole is cause for concern.
  • Coloration is also important to flagging abnormal moles, or those transitioning to melanoma. Though everyday moles grow from light flesh-colors to deep brown, their coloration is usually uniform. The mole isn’t partially tan or partly black. A mole with various colors within its body may be melanoma. Several shades of colors, from tans, to browns, to reddish-ocre, to blues, to black or even white are reasons to call an experienced dermatologist now.
  • Diameter is measured by the width of the mole. Benign moles can be small or large, from a few millimeters to one-fourth inch or more across. When a mole grows quickly, from a small diameter to more than one-fourth inch in diameter, it’s time to call the dermatologist. For more detailed information on abnormal moles, click here.

Melanoma is by far the most deadly form of epidermal cancer. More than sixty thousand cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year in the U.S. It’s currently the second fastest growing cancer, after lung cancer. Incidence frequency increased almost three hundred percent between 1973 and 2003. About twelve to fifteen percent of individuals diagnosed die from this cancer. Lesions present most often on limbs, backs, or trunk of the body, but melanoma can appear anywhere–including feet, nails, or skin that isn’t exposed to sunlight. Early stage detection is incredibly important to the successful treatment of melanoma. This form of cancer can grow and spread quickly. The first symptoms may be either a freckle, pigmented spot, or mole (new or existing) that exhibits change in color, size or shape. The boarder of the pigmented spot may be irregular, or could be multi-colored. For more detailed information on Melanoma, click here.


Dr. Kathleen J. Smith evaluates and diagnoses each patient’s condition before making treatment recommendations. Biopsy of the lesion or lesions is generally required in order to confirm the patient’s diagnosis.


There are many different treatments available for patients with epidermal cancer. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith may recommend topical treatments, including those containing chemotherapeutic and/or immunomodulating medicines. Some treatments help the immune system to defend itself from cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, early treatment of all forms of epidermal cancers have encouraging outcomes. Approximately eighty-five percent of all patients with all forms of epidermal cancer can recover under a doctor’s care.


Epidermal cancers are avoidable. Daily high SPF sunscreens and limited exposure to sunlight is essential. Avoid tanning beds! Patients with cancer concerns in North Decatur, GA, Belvedere Park, GA, Druid Hills, GA, Panthersville, GA, Gresham Park, GA, Tucker, GA, Doraville, GA, Chamblee, GA, Redan, GA, Forest Park, GA, North Atlanta, Decatur, and throughout Greater Atlanta should call Dr. Kathleen J. Smith at Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta for an appointment: 678-904-4932.

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