Skin Cancer

Learn More About Skin Cancer Care

Dr. Elizabeth Spiers is a medical dermatologist in Doylestown, PA, who assesses and treats various forms of skin cancer. She and her staff collectively have decades of experience with dermatology and in treating various forms of skin cancer, such as melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, so the practice has a loyal following of patients who have come to trust their skin care concerns to Dr. Spiers and her team.

If detected and treated early, many—if not most—skin cancers can be cured. Most types of skin cancer begin with a visible change in an area of the skin, which is often first noticed by the patient, but can then be confirmed within the practice. Regular skin assessments, both by the patient and by Dr. Spiers, are an important first step in detecting skin cancer.

If you have concerns or questions about skin cancer, reach out to the practice, or request an appointment by calling our office at (215) 230-4592.

A change in the skin does not necessarily signal cancer. However, if you do notice anything different or unusual in your skin, the best course of action is to ask questions and to seek expert guidance.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on sites of sun-exposed skin, but may occur on any part of the body. Risk factors for skin cancer include excess sun exposure, history of sunburns, use of tanning beds, light skin, and family history of skin cancer. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Early detection and treatment leads to better outcomes both cosmetically and functionally. In the case of melanoma, early detection and treatment may be lifesaving. Regular skin assessments, both by patient self-exam and by the practice, are a critical activity in skin cancer protection.


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells of the skin. Melanoma can develop in a pre-existing mole or can occur as a newly pigmented spot on the skin. Melanoma is increasingly common, so that 1 in 50 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Melanoma, although rare in children, can occur at any age. While early lesions of melanoma can be treated successfully with local surgery, invasive melanoma carries the risk of metastasis and death depending on tumor stage and other prognostic factors. Prompt evaluation of any spot you're concerned about is advised.

Warning signs of melanoma include the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry – If you draw a line through a mole and the two halves don't match.
  • Border – A lesion that is irregularly shaped; the border is scalloped or notched.
  • Color – A lesion that contains various colors, such as different shades of brown to black. Also could show areas of red, white, or gray. A very dark or black mole may be cause for concern.
  • Diameter – A lesion larger than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser). It is important to note that they may start smaller than this. It is also suggested that D could stand for dark color or the "Ugly Duckling"—the spot that looks different from the person's other moles or is an outlier.
  • Evolving – A change in a lesion's size, shape, color—or E, F, G: Elevated, Firm, and Growing progressively for one month.

Meet Dr. Spiers

Other Types of Skin Cancer

In addition to melanoma, there are two other common forms of skin cancer typically found on sun-exposed skin—but remember that skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, not just on areas exposed to sunlight:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It is usually a slow-growing skin cancer, commonly found on sun-exposed areas. Even though this type of skin cancer almost never spreads or causes harm to general health, it can be locally aggressive and deeply invasive and destructive of normal tissues. Potential indications of BCC are:

  • A blemish or sore that will not heal or seems to heal then returns in the same spot.
  • A pink scaly patch that does not respond to treatment.
  • A pink or white scar-like area.
  • A shiny papule with overlying small blood vessels.
  • An area that bleeds easily with minimal or no trauma.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is commonly found in sun-exposed areas and may occur on mucous membranes such as the lip. SCC has the potential to grow rapidly and potentially metastasize. They are particularly dangerous in immunosuppressed people, such as persons who have had organ transplants. Warning signs include:

  • thick, rough, scaly patches or horn-like areas
  • a hard, red nodule that may be painful with pressure
  • an open sore that fails to heal

Detecting Skin Cancer

Regular skin exams are important for early diagnosis of skin cancer. Often, the patient may not be aware that a particular lesion is a potential skin cancer or the site may be an area that he/she cannot adequately see and/or examine, such as on the back. Skin cancer education and a discussion of ways to protect yourself from sun damage will help keep your skin healthy and will take place during your skin assessment.

Treating Skin Cancer

A range of treatments is available for skin cancer, with the treatment always tailored to the type of skin cancer, its location, and patient preference for treatment if medically appropriate. Treatment options may include topical imiquimod, electrodessication and curettage, excision, and Mohs Surgery.

Recovery and Prognosis

Early diagnoses and treatment will lead to better cosmetic outcomes, and in the case of malignant melanoma may be life-saving.

If you have further concerns or questions about skin cancer, we're here to help, or you can request an appointment today. Call the office at (215) 230-4592.