Skin cancer affects more people than any other type of cancer, making it a major health problem worldwide. But the good news is that skin cancer can often be prevented or treated successfully if caught early. Dr. Gregory Houck emphasizes the importance of increased awareness and education about skin cancer, advocating for more individuals to take proactive steps toward their skin health. Understanding the risk factors, recognizing early warning signs, and adopting protective measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing severe skin conditions. 

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, resulting from damage to DNA, often due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and tanning beds. This damage leads to mutations or genetic defects that cause the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.Understanding the various types of skin cancer, which differ in appearance, severity, and treatments available, is crucial. Key facts and types include:

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

  • Most common form of skin cancer.
  • Arises in the basal cells, located at the bottom of the epidermis.
  • Appears as a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or pinkish patch of skin.
  • Highly treatable, especially when caught early.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):

  • Second most common type.
  • Originates in the squamous cells, which make up most of the skin’s upper layers (epidermis).
  • Often appears as a red, scaly patch, open sore, or wart-like bump that may crust or bleed.
  • Treatable when detected early but can be more aggressive than BCC.


  • The most serious form due to its high likelihood of spreading (metastasis).
  • Develops in the melanocytes, which produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.
  • Requires early detection for effective treatment.

Signs of Skin Cancer

Recognizing the early signs of skin cancer can save lives. The ABCDEs of melanoma provide a guide to spotting concerning moles or skin changes:

  • Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other.
  • Border: Edges are irregular, ragged, or blurred.
  • Color: The color is not uniform and may include shades of brown, black, pink, red, white, or blue.
  • Diameter: The mole is larger than 6mm in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • Evolving: The mole changes in size, shape, or color over time.

Melanoma Prevention

Preventing skin cancer starts with protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays:

  • Sun Protection: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
  • Protective Clothing: Wear sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Shade: Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Incorporating a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and regular physical activity, can also support skin health.

Early Detection and Treatment

Dr. Gregory Houck stresses that early detection of skin cancer significantly improves treatment success rates, possibly resulting in a complete cure. Key strategies and treatments include:

  • Regular Skin Examinations: Both self-exams and professional evaluations by a dermatologist are crucial. Dr. Houck advises patients to perform regular self-checks for new growths or changes in existing moles, and to schedule annual skin screenings with a dermatologist.
  • Biopsy: If a suspicious area is found, a biopsy is typically the next step. This involves removing a small sample of skin tissue for analysis to determine if cancer cells are present.
  • Surgical Removal: The most common treatment for localized skin cancer, surgical options can vary from simple excisions to Mohs surgery, a precise technique that removes cancerous tissue while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.
  • Radiation Therapy: Used in cases where surgery isn’t an option, radiation therapy involves targeting cancer cells with high-energy rays to destroy them.
  • Topical Medications: For early stages of certain skin cancers, prescription creams or gels can be applied directly to the skin. These treatments can kill cancer cells or stimulate the immune system to attack the cancer.

Ultimately, the goal of early detection and treatment is not just to cure skin cancer but also to preserve the quality of life of the patient, minimizing the impact of the disease and its treatment on the patient’s appearance and overall health. 

Get In Touch

If you’ve noticed changes in your skin or if it’s been a while since your last skin check, don’t wait. Contact Houck Dermatology today to schedule a skin cancer screening. Remember, early detection is key to effective treatment. Our practice is conveniently located to serve you, and our team is dedicated to providing expert dermatological care.