Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 3.5 million cases are diagnosed each year. At Morton Plant Hospital, we are committed to helping individuals in Clearwater, FL, and throughout the Tampa Bay area reduce their risk of developing skin cancer, in addition to offering the most advanced diagnostic services and treatments available.

There are several different types of skin cancer, which have different appearances and present themselves on different parts of the body:

  • Basal cell carcinoma - this is the most common type of skin cancer and it is usually very treatable since it grows very slowly and isn't known to spread
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - this type of skin cancer can spread, but spreads slowly. It most often affects the lymph nodes, but these can be removed before the cancer reaches other body areas
  • Malignant melanoma - this type of cancer is the most serious of skin cancers since it can quickly spread through the skin and into other organs

Skin Cancer Risks

There are several different factors that contribute to skin cancer. Some of the risks include:

  • Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays - If you spend a lot of time in the sun or use tanning beds, your risk for skin cancer is higher
  • Fair or light skin - If you have a fair complexion, you have less melanin (pigment) in your skin and are at a higher risk for skin cancer
  • Frequent sunburns - If you have gotten sunburned often, even as a child, your risk for skin cancer is higher
  • Family history - If someone in your family has had skin cancer, your risk for skin cancer is higher, due to common environmental factors
  • Geography - It you live close to the equator or at a high elevation, you are more exposed to UV rays, and are at a higher risk for skin cancer
  • Weak immune system - If you have HIV/AIDS or other immune system issues, you are at a higher risk for skin cancer and other diseases

Reducing the Risks of Skin Cancer

There are many ways in which you can reduce your risks for developing skin cancer. Always make sure to:

  • Wear sunscreen - It is recommended that you wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, every day, year-round to protect your skin
  • Watch the clock - Try to avoid the sun during midday, between the hours of 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are most damaging
  • Cover up - The less skin exposed to the sun, the better, so when possible, wear long sleeves, a hat and clothing that blocks UV rays
  • Know your skin - Get familiar with your skin, and notice any alterations in your moles or freckles, since sudden changes in color or shape can indicate cancer
  • Avoid tanning beds - Tanning beds are dangerous and increase your UV exposure

Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms

Begin to assess your own skin and pay attention to any changes you see. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:
  • A new mole
  • A mole that changes color
  • A mole that changes shape
  • A mole with uneven borders
  • A mole that gets larger
  • A moles that bleeds or oozes
  • A mole that itches

Early Detection of Skin Cancer

Like any cancer, early detection is an essential part of a positive outcome. Morton Plant Hospital offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic procedures and imaging tests to give you the best chance possible at beating skin cancer. Tests include:

  • Lymph node biopsy
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • Skin lesion biopsy
  • Wide local excision
  • PET/CT 

Skin Cancer Treatments

At Lykes Radiation Pavilion and Axelrod Pavilion, patients fighting skin cancer can get radiation therapy and chemotherapy in a comfortable, outpatient setting. These treatments may be recommended on their own or in conjunction with each other. Surgery such as skin grafting, excision, or lymph node dissection may also be recommended before or after chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, or radiation therapy.   

For a free physician referral, please call the BayCare Customer Service Center at (727) 462-7500 or find a specialist near you.

Axelrod Pavilion
Outpatient Infusion Services Dept.
Morton Plant Hospital
303 Pinellas St., Suite 250
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 462-2128

Lykes Radiation Pavilion
Morton Plant Hospital
300 Pinellas St.
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 462-7220

Axelrod Pavilion
Morton Plant Hospital
400 Pinellas Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 461-8555

Carlisle Imaging Center
Axelrod Pavilion
Morton Plant Hospital
400 Pinellas St., Suite 100
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 461-8555