Skin Cancer Specialist

Irradiance Medical Group Dermatology

Board Certified Dermatologist & Cosmetic Surgeon located in Little Tokyo, Downtown, Los Angeles, CA & Torrance, CA

Caught in the earliest stage, skin cancer is often curable. At their offices in the Torrance and Little Tokyo neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Dr. Christopher Ho and the experts at Irradiance Medical Group Dermatology: Christopher Ho, MD provide routine skin cancer screenings and treatment for patients.

Skin Cancer Q & A

The largest organ in your body is your skin. It protects against sunlight, heat, infection, and injury. Skin also helps control your body temperature and store fat, water, and vitamin D. Though it has several layers, the two main layers of the skin are the dermis (lower or inner layer) and the epidermis (top or outer layer).

Is there more than one kind of skin cancer?

Cancer begins in the epidermis, but it is made up of three kinds of cells affected by different malignancies:

Squamous cell carcinoma

This is cancer of the squamous cells, the flat, thin, cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.

Basal cell carcinoma

This is cancer of the basal cells, round cells beneath the squamous cells.

Melanoma

This is cancer of the melanocytes. These cells are found in the lower part of the epidermis and make melanin, the pigment that provides skin with its natural color. When your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, melanocytes produce more pigment and cause the skin to darken or tan.

How Do You Screen for Skin Cancer?

To diagnose skin cancer, your doctor will examine your skin to determine if any skin changes he sees indicate skin cancer. Further testing may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. Melanoma is the obvious thing you are screened for. If anything about your skin seems suspicious, a biopsy is ordered. This is a sample of suspicious skin that is sent for lab testing to determine whether you have skin cancer, and if so, the type of skin cancer it is.

Who is at Risk for Melanoma Skin Cancer?

Being at risk does not mean you will have cancer but rather that certain factors increase your chance of getting cancer. Some of the risk factors for melanoma include:

  • Having a fair complexion with freckles and burns easily, tans poorly, or does not tan
  • Having green, blue, or other light-colored eyes
  • Having red or blond hair
  • Being over-exposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight (such as from a tanning bed)
  • Having several large or numerous small moles
  • Having a family history of unusual moles
  • Having a history of many blistering sunburns, in particular as a child or teenager
  • Having a family history of melanoma
  • Being white

What Are the Risk Factors for Non-melanoma Skin Cancers?

Some of the risk factors for non-melanoma skin cancers include:

  • Being overexposed to natural sunlight or artificial sunlight
  • Having a fair complexion
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Treatment with radiation in the past
  • Being exposed to arsenic

If you’re concerned that you may have skin cancer, call Irradiance Medical Group Dermatology: Christopher Ho, MD or book a consultation directly online today.