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Basal Cell Carcinoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma Melanoma Memphis Dermatologist

by George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (11/30/2023)

Skin Cancer, including Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma, and Melanoma, takes the lives of upwards of 20,000 Americans every year. That’s one person about every 24 minutes. Fortunately, early detection leads to early treatment, saving lives. Let’s take a look at tips and clues that Dermatologists like myself use to diagnose Skin Cancer early, my Memphis Dermatology practice having been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, Cordova, TN, since 1993 (1-901-753-0168; 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN 38018;

The photo below shows several basal cell skin cancers on the back of a person's hand.

First, you’ve got to look for it to detect Skin Cancer. Many lives are saved by a concerned family member who inspects a loved one, detects a changing growth or mole, and gets the patient to prompt medical attention. So, to spot a suspicious growth early, you do need to get your family members pretty much naked for a routine home inspection because skin cancer can occur on all parts of the body.

Years ago, we Dermatologists taught that certain people were high risk for skin cancer: redheads, blonds, those who freckle easily, or those who love the sun or who have a history of severe sunburns.

Low risk” people were those who routinely wore sunscreen, avoided the sun and tanning salon bulbs, or tanned easily. But we now realize that really everyone’s at risk of skin cancer. In fact, African Americans tend to be diagnosed much later, leading to a higher fatality rate!

Be aware that Skin Cancer affects more than just senior citizens. In fact, the median age for development of Melanoma is 52 years old. That means that half of cases occur in people younger than 52. And don’t forget to inspect your kids. Several thousand people under the age of 20 develop Melanoma in the U.S. each year, including several hundred below the age of 12.

So what do you watch for? What features of growth or mole cause higher concern and might be a sign of a type of high-risk mole called an atypical mole?

Look for what we call the A, B, C, D, and E warning signs:

A stands for Asymmetry: one half of the lesion does not match the other half.

B stands for Border: a jagged border, perhaps like the coast of Maine rather than of Florida.

C stands for Color change: different hues of brown or black within the lesion or one mole that’s a darker color than the person’s other moles.

D stands for an increasing Diameter of the lesion.

E stands for Evolving: if the lesion is changing, it’s best to bring it to the attention of a Dermatologist.

The tell-tale sign of basal cell skin cancer is a translucent or almost clear-looking growth, usually on sun-exposed parts of the body. Squamous Cell Skin Cancer, or Squamous Cell Carcinoma, tends to be more scabbed or crusted, tending to bleed. Melanoma tends to be a pigmented lesion, meaning that it’s often black, brown, or gray in color.

The development of soreness or itching within a lesion can be a sign that it’s turned cancerous. So it’s an especially good idea to get a sore or itchy lesion checked by a Board-certified Dermatologist.

We know what action to take for suspicious moles or growths: if caught early, generally, a Dermatologic Surgeon like myself will use a simple removal or “excision” of the lesion under local anesthetic. If the lesion turns out to be a precancerous lesion – such as a high-risk atypical mole – or perhaps a severely atypical solar keratosis or actinic keratosis - or a full-fledged skin cancer - we often try to ensure that the lesion is completely out – by doing what’s called a “re-excision.”

Mohs Surgery – available in my own practice as a Memphis Dermatologist since 2004 – is a special technique in which the Skin Cancer is cut out – and then processed right in the office – to check whether the borders of the specimen removed are clear of cancer or not. If those borders are not clear, we can then do a further stage or cycle or Mohs surgery to check once again for clear borders.

My own Memphis Dermatology practice these last 30 years has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates in Cordova, TN (1-901-753-0168; Or you can find a Dermatologist closer to you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology website,, then simply plugging your zip code into the “Find a Dermatologist” tab.

Melanoma can spread internally if not caught early
Scarlet Akins developed melanoma at age 26

For more helpful tips and photos of melanoma, go to the Skin Cancer Foundation website: Or check out a short video on YouTube sponsored by my Memphis Dermatology practice on the story of Scarlet Akins, a 26-year-old woman studying to be a teacher at Ole Miss. Scarlet was diagnosed with Melanoma when about seven months pregnant: “Understanding the Melanoma Crisis, Scarlet’s Story.”

I am also President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc., manufacturer, and distributor of organic skincare products such as antiwrinkle cream GlycoShea Facial&Neck Lotion, AmberSoy Soap Gel (a glycerine cleaner for people with oily skin or complexion issues), and HypoShea Moisturizer Cream (a Refined Shea Butter moisturizer for people with sensitive skin. Check us out at

So see spot. See spot change. See a Dermatologist!

Dermatologists specialize in the skin, hair, and nails
Dr. George R. Woodbury Jr. M.D.

George Woodbury Jr. M.D.

Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates PC

8143 Walnut Grove Road

Cordova TN 38018




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