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The Story Behind the Stats

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doctor screening for skin cancer on woman's shoulder

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More than three million new cases are diagnosed each year with approximately 20,000 Americans dying each year from this disease.

Cooper Clinic Dermatology firmly supports that the alarmingly rapid increase of this disease is preventable with intentional education and efforts to reduce ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure with optimal sunscreen use and protective clothing.

From 2009 to 2018, Cooper Clinic Dermatology detected and treated more than 2,000 skin cancers. The most common skin cancer detected by Cooper’s dermatologists is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), with 1,208 biopsy-proven BCC lesions detected. 

Types of Skin Cancers
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) comprises 75 percent of skin care cases and is more common in people 40 years of age and older. Cooper Clinic Dermatology diagnosed 1,208 cases of BCC since 2009, this type of skin cancer can be identified by a pinkish to red, flat or raised spot on the skin with a pearly sheen.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The second most common form of skin cancer, accounting for 20 percent of skin cancer cases, is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Over the past decade, Cooper Clinic Dermatology diagnosed 428 cases of this wart-like skin cancer, which tends to be more dangerous, owing to a greater risk of metastasis. 

Over the past 10 years, 148 patients were diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly of skin cancers, by the dermatology team. Comprising roughly five to seven percent of all skin cancer cases, in more advanced stages, malignant melanoma (MM) is highly resistant to radiation treatments, chemotherapy and immune therapy. Once it has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body), it quickly becomes fatal.

Preventive Action
Preventive and Cosmetic Dermatologist and Director of Dermatology Dr. Rick Wilson MD, FASDS, FABVLM credits these impressive statistics to the dedicated team of dermatologists at Cooper Clinic.

“The distinguishing factor of Cooper Clinic Dermatology from other facilities is not a matter of technology, but the intentionality of our team,” Wilson says. “We have dedicated the time required to do a thorough full-body skin cancer screening, which is not done in most dermatology office settings.”

With years of experience in meticulous screening and treatment of skin cancers, the Cooper Clinic Dermatology team members are experts in detection. They continually seek to further their skill and insight in order to be well-equipped to help each patient with their skin care needs. One of the ways they do this is by continuing their medical education and technical training with the Dermascope, an advanced technology that provides early and accurate detection of skin cancer. They are committed to innovation and being educated on the latest dermatologic research.

Education and Thoroughness 
As we age, it is vital to have comprehensive skin exams. “At Cooper, a head-to-toe exam is our routine," says Wilson. "We’re looking everywhere, including the scalp, bottoms of the feet, underneath fingernails and toenails and even in-between the toes.” In 2018, more than 200 skin cancers were diagnosed for our patients, among the 5,000 patients who received a full body skin cancer screening as a key component of their annual preventive exam at Cooper Clinic.

The education given to patients during their exam may be saving even more lives than doctors can calculate. “It’s important to note that we educate every patient we screen in terms of what to look for during self-examination,” says Wilson. “This has been proven by research to save lives for both the individual patient plus family members and friends.” 

Awareness and Timeliness
Dr. Wilson admits it is difficult to pinpoint a specific age when one should begin having an annual skin cancer screening. It can depend on a variety of factors such as where you live, family history of skin cancer, relative skin fairness, tanning bed use and sun exposure. While dermatologists typically start seeing skin cancers on individuals age 40 and older, certain genetic and lifestyle factors could cause early development of skin cancer at a younger age. “Ten percent of melanomas are genetic,” says Wilson. “If you have a strong family history of melanoma, you should start in your early 20s having annual skin cancer screenings.”

Over the past ten years, Cooper Clinic Dermatology has saved more than 200 lives of patients with melanomas and other serious skin cancers. “By taking the time to teach our patients about sun damage prevention and by performing biopsies early on evolving skin cancers, we have saved many lives,” says Wilson. “It’s about skill, patient education and invested time.” 

For more information or to schedule a comprehensive skin cancer screening at Cooper Clinic Dermatology, visit or call 972.560.2667.