Skin Cancer

Jeffrey Alter, MD -  - Medical Dermatologist

Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury

Jeffrey Alter, MD

Medical Dermatologist located in Waterbury, CT & Southbury, CT

Skin cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can often be fully treated if caught early. At Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury, board-certified dermatologist Jeffrey Alter, MD, performs comprehensive skin checks, skin biopsies, and skin cancer treatments right in the office. You can schedule your skin cancer screening or treatment appointment at this Waterbury, Connecticut, dermatology practice by requesting an appointment online. You can also call to speak with a team member directly.

Skin Cancer Q & A

What causes skin cancer?

Skin cancer develops when skin cells grow abnormally. In most cases, skin cancer is a result of sun exposure. Each time you expose your skin to the sun — or tanning bed — melanocyte cells start producing a pigment called melanin for protection. Overproduction or abnormal production of pigmentation can turn into cancerous cells.

Though sun exposure is often considered the leading cause of skin cancer, some men and women have higher risks of developing skin cancer than others. Additional causes and risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Fair skin
  • Multiple moles
  • Weakened immune system
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Precancerous skin lesions (actinic keratoses)
  • Exposure to radiation or dangerous substances like arsenic

Having regular dermatological skin checks can help detect early warning signs of cancer, so you can get treated before the condition spreads or progresses.

When should I see a dermatologist for skin cancer?

If you notice any abnormal growths, bumps, or lesions developing anywhere on your body, schedule an evaluation with Dr. Alter at Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury right away. Signs and symptoms of the most common types of skin cancer, which require immediate treatment, are described below.

Basal cell carcinoma

Known as the most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma leads to flesh-colored or pearl-like bumps. Basal cell carcinomas tend to form on your head, arms, chest, and neck, although they can certainly develop in any areas that are often exposed to sunlight.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinomas appear as firm red bumps or small scaly patches. You may notice that you have a sore that heals up but then continues to reopen. Squamous cell carcinomas often develop on sun-exposed areas, including your ears, neck, arms, chest, and back.

Actinic keratoses

Actinic keratoses are precancerous growths that can turn into skin cancer if left untreated. These precancerous patches appear as small discolored dry, scaly spots that show up on your head, neck, hands, forearms, or another area that’s prone to frequent sun exposure.

Melanoma

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, usually develops within moles, although it can also surface as a sudden dark spot. Watch for growths that are getting darker, are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, or vary in color.

If you notice any of these skin cancer warning signs, you can get the care you need at Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury.

How is skin cancer treated?

When you come into Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury for your skin cancer screening, Dr. Alter evaluates your skin from head to toe. He takes skin biopsies from wherever he sees abnormal or suspicious growths. If you have a positive skin cancer biopsy, your treatment plan may include:

  • Excisional surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Freezing medicine (cryosurgery)
  • Curettage and electrodesiccation

For more complex cases of skin cancer, you may need chemotherapy. Local chemotherapy creams and lotions can be applied to your skin if the cancer affects the top layer only.

But if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, you may need systemic chemotherapy. No matter which skin cancer treatment is right for you, Dr. Alter cares for you every step of the way.

If you have signs of skin cancer or a personal or family history of skin cancer, book an exam at Integrated Dermatology of Waterbury today. Schedule either online or over the phone.