Detecting The Undetectable

By Dr. Anthony Perri

Skin Cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, yet many Americans may not even know they have it until it’s too late. Skin cancers come in many forms and some are virtually undetectable without a regular screening. However, skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early, which is why one local Montgomery County dermatologist is committed to providing quality care in a timely manner. Ensuring early detection for more people.

Board certified dermatologist, Dr. Anthony Perri has been serving the Montgomery County area for ten years and is one of Houston’s top dermatologist. He graduated from Baylor College of Medicine with honors and was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He served as chief resident of dermatology at UTMB and chief of dermatology at Sadler Clinic before opening his own practice in Conroe and The Woodlands.

While his impressive resume of medical achievements is part of what makes him a top ranked dermatologist, it’s his dedication to providing exceptional care in a timely manner that is of the utmost importance to him. With little to no wait time, Dr. Perri knows firsthand the importance of providing timely health care, as an early diagnosis of melanoma saved his father’s life. Dr. Perri is also one of the only dermatologists in the area that focuses strictly on treating medical skin conditions not pertaining to cosmetic procedures.

Patients will find the same commitment and dedication from Dr. Perri’s physician assistant, Melissa Shearer, who has more than five years of experience as a dermatology physician assistant. She joined Dr. Perri’s practice in November of 2015 and has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science-motor behavior from Texas A&M University, as well as, a Masters in physician assistant studies from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Dr. Perri and his physician assistant, Melissa, are highly trained, experienced and compassionate about their patients needs, which is why they are continually educating and advocating self-exams and annual exams by board-certified dermatologist or a dermatology physician assistant.

SELF-EXAMS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Getting in the routine of doing monthly self-checks is important, because even the slightest change or irritation in a mole can be a sign of something more serious. However, it’s still important to have a board-certified dermatologist or dermatology PA check your skin annually, as they can often detect things you might have missed. Not only do annual skin checks help monitor and detect worrisome changes that you might have overlooked, they also ensure they don’t become a cause for concern. The longer any form of skin cancer is allowed to persist, the more difficult it is to treat.

Skin cancers often begin as lesions that aren’t much different from normal skin; they usually can only be identified by a dermatologist. While skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body, it’s important to pay attention to the areas that have had excessive sun exposure. Here are some things you need to be on the lookout for while doing your monthly self-checks:

• Skin bumps or growth that are pearly or waxy, white or light pink, flesh-colored or brown

• Skin sores that bleed easily and/or do not heal

• Oozing or crusting spots in a sore or a lesion with a sunken area in the center

• Irregular blood vessels in or around a skin lesion

• The appearance of a scar-like sore without having injured the area

• A mole that has uneven borders, changed in color, has a large diameter (over ¼ inches) or has evolved over time

Melanoma in particular is very important to catch early, as it’s the deadliest form of skin caner and is hard to treat the more it spreads. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, on average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. Melanoma can affect people of any skin tone and can occur on skin that’s never been exposed to the sun. Here are some things to be on the lookout for:

• A large brownish spot with darker speckles

• A mole that changes in color, size, feel or that bleeds

• A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue or blue-black

• Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes

If you find any areas like these on your skin, please contact Dr. Perri’s office immediately at either one of his convenient locations: The Woodlands (281) 943-2749 or Conroe (936) 522-4966.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AN ANNUAL SKIN CANCER SCREENING:

When going into your annual skin cancer screening, be sure to tell your doctor about any areas you’re concerned about so they can take a closer look.

Because skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body, Dr. Perri will do a full head-to-toe exam. He may use what’s called a hand-held dermatopscope, which magnifies and illuminates the various layers of skin, giving him a closer look at what the naked eye can’t see. Dr. Perri will be looking for irregular moles, basal cell cancers, melanomas, squamous cell cancers and actinic keratosis.

Don’t panic if it seems like he’s moving quickly, dermatologist are experts on identifying worrisome spots. If he does find a suspicious mole and decides it needs to be looked at further, he will perform what’s called a biopsy, which only takes a few minutes and is very common. Dr. Perri will administer local anesthesia around the area of the mole and then remove the mole with a shave biopsy. The mole will be sent to a pathologist to examine the tissue and see whether the melanocytes are normal, dysplastic or cancerous. The entire procedure takes no more than five minutes and causes little to no pain.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE PRONE TO SKIN CANCER:

The risks for skin cancer are particularly high for patients with fair skin, light hair and eyes and those that have a family history of skin cancer. Skin cancer most commonly develops on skin that’s had excessive exposure to the sun like, your scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands and legs. However, it can also develop on areas that aren’t usually exposed to the sun like, your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails and on the soles of your feet. It affects people of all skin tones and just because you don’t fit the mold of someone who has a greater risk, that doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t get it.

PROTECT, PREVENT AND DETECT:

The best way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun or UV lighting (tanning beds). Wear SPF 30 or higher with UVA/UVB protection year around, avoid the sun during peak hours, between 10am and 2pm, wear protective clothing when you are out in the sun and do not tan or use tanning beds. But remember, skin cancer doesn’t discriminate and can develop on skin that’s never exposed to the sun so, getting an annual skin cancer screening can help detect any early signs of skin cancer.

Dr. Perri’s office offers flexible appointment hours at two convenient locations: in The Woodlands at 9305 Pinecroft, Suite 305, and in Conroe at 4015 Interstate 45 North at League Line Road. You can call either location to schedule an appointment or you can visit their website at www.perridermatology.com to get more information.