Skin Cancer

Ducharme Dermatology, Inc

Erin Ducharme, MD, FAAD

Board-Certified Dermatologist located at the junction of Waukee & Clive, Iowa

Cancer is a disease in which cells the in your body grow abnormally, and skin cancer is the most prevalent and preventable form of cancer in the United States. Whether you’ve experienced overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or artificial sources like tanning beds, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Erin Ducharme, MD at Ducharme Dermatology, Inc. in Clive and Greater Des Moines Area, Iowa, to get tested for skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Q & A

What are the different kinds of skin cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma

Close to 90% of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and appear on your head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma usually resembles a shiny bump with a dimple in the middle, grows slowly and rarely spreads.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Affecting the outer skin layer known as the epidermis, squamous cell carcinoma tends to be more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. If left untreated, the red, scaly, rough lesions spread from your sun-exposed hands, head, neck, and ears to other body parts.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually starts as untreated actinic or solar keratosis, red or pink rough patch of skin caused by exposure to sunlight.


Less common, but more dangerous, melanoma causes approximately 75% of all skin cancer-related deaths and affects the skin cells that create pigment. Benign collections of these skin cells appear as moles. However, it’s best to let Dr. Ducharme check your moles for changes that indicate melanoma. There are four kinds of melanoma:

  • Superficial spreading melanoma: most common type at all ages
  • Lentigo maligna melanoma: usually affects the elderly
  • Nodular melanoma: usually starts as a raised patch
  • Acral lentiginous melanoma: least common type affecting your palms, soles of your feet, and under finger and toenails

All three types of skin cancer have the same risk factors, which include prolonged exposure to sunlight, being over 40, having a fair complexion, and a family history of skin cancers.

How is skin cancer diagnosed?

Dr. Ducharme diagnoses skin cancer by examining your skin and, if needed, taking a biopsy. A skin biopsy requires removal of a small sample of cells for testing at a laboratory. Should your biopsy come back positive for cancer, Dr. Ducharme performs additional tests the extent or stage of your cancer.

How is skin cancer treated?

Skin cancer treatment depends on the stage of your cancer, as well as the size, type, depth and location of your lesions and most often involves removing the growths.

If you have a mole or another spot of skin you’re concerned could be skin cancer, call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Erin Ducharme, MD at Ducharme Dermatology, Inc. in Clive, Iowa.