published Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Ask a Doctor: I have a dark spot on my skin. Is it cancer?

Q: I have a dark spot on my skin. Is it cancer?

A: The majority of skin lesions are noncancerous and require only observation. However, any lesion that is changing in size, shape, color or texture should be examined by a physician because these are potential signs of a problem that may require treatment. When identified early, most skin cancers are easily treated and cured. Treatment may consist of surgical removal or topical chemo-therapy creams. The biggest risk factor for development of skin cancer is sun exposure, particularly sunburns. Tanning beds also are unsafe and increase the risk. In order to protect yourself and your children when outdoors, always apply sunscreen and reapply it as directed and wear a hat to protect your head and face. Our lifetime exposure to sun is what causes skin cancer to become apparent when we are older; thus, it is very important to protect and educate our children.

-- Dr. Jimmy Lee Waldrop, Plastic Surgery Group; member, Chattanooga Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for a medical doctor, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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