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Dermatology Glossary in Clarkston, MI

In the medical industry, you can feel like just a number without a doctor who really listens. At Clarkston Dermatology, we believe in offering a personalized experience so you can be seen AND heard. We encourage our patients in Troy and Clarkston, MI, to familiarize themselves with this dermatology glossary to better understand common forms of skin cancer that we screen for and treat.

What Is Actinic Keratosis (AK)?

AK, or solar keratosis, is a scaly and rough patch on the skin that’s caused by sun exposure and typically develops on the scalp, neck, arms, or face. Once you develop an AK, you are at an increased risk for developing additional keratoses. If left untreated, AK can develop into squamous cell carcinoma which can be invasive and spread.

Dermatology Glossary in Birmingham, MI
Dermatology Glossary in Birmingham, MI

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma type of skin cancer and it’s the most common form of skin cancer in the U.S. BCC often appears on the face and begins in basal cells, or cells in the skin that create new skin cells to replace old cells. BCC may look like a tiny, fleshy bump that may develop a crust and not heal well.

What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)?

This is the second-most common form of skin cancer and it starts in the squamous cells of the epidermis. It typically appears as a raised growth or a scaly patch, often on the lip, forehead, nose, hand, or other area of the body exposed to the sun. While squamous cell carcinoma tends to grow slowly, it can spread.

What Is Melanoma?

This is the most deadly type of skin cancer and it can strike in the 20s and 30s whereas AK, BCC, and SCC usually occur after 40. Melanoma usually starts as a black or brownish patch with an irregular border. It may begin near a mole, but it can start virtually anywhere on the body. Because melanoma tends to spread, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the ABCDE method to detect possible melanoma:

  • A (Asymmetrical): Melanoma is typically asymmetrical which means that if an imaginary line is drawn through the spot, the two sides will not be the same.
  • B (Border): Early melanoma tends to have an uneven border that may look notched or scalloped.
  • C (Color): You may see a range of colors in the spot such as brown, black, and tan. Sometimes melanoma is blue, red, or another color, however.
  • D (Diameter): Early melanoma usually grows larger than a mole or larger than 6mm in diameter, but it may be very small if it’s detected early.
  • E (Evolving): Changes in the elevation, color, shape, or size of a spot are strong indicators of melanoma. The spot may also develop symptoms such as crusting, bleeding, or itching.

At Clarkston Dermatology, we believe in treating you like more than just a number, which can make you feel insignificant. We believe your concerns shouldn’t be ignored, and that’s why you need a team that partners with you. As patients ourselves, we recognize that it can be difficult to find a doctor who really listens which is why we have worked to build patient relationships for more than 14 years. Get started by scheduling an appointment, meeting with your care team, and starting on the journey to better, healthier skin. Before we see you, we also encourage patients in Troy and Clarkston to stay healthy and download “5 Reasons to Use Sunscreen.”