Dr. Mark Chastain opened the first Skin Cancer Specialists in Marietta in 2003 and three years later, after seeing the need for an office south of Atlanta, opened a location in Newnan. While the practice can assist patients with general dermatology concerns, skin cancer management is the main focus.
“We do full body exams and anything suspicious is removed and sent to the lab for testing the same day,” said Chastain. “If it proves to be cancer, we do the surgery right at the office.” There are many options for treatment including cremes, scraping, excisional and the Mohs procedure, which goes layer by layer microscopically to make sure that the cancer is completely removed.
“Afterwards, we test again to see if it is clear and once it is clear, the reconstruction procedure begins,” said Chastain.
Chastain sees a lot patients with skin cancer because people in Georgia see a lot of sun year round. The majority of cases occur in sun exposed areas like the face, scalp and arms.
“Cumulative sun exposure leads to skin cancer and many of the cases occur on the face because that’s where we get a lot of sun – even on a cold winter day.” said Chastain, who recommends that people with fair skin use sun screen on a daily basis to all exposed areas. “If you are going to be in direct sunlight, put it on every two hours.”
Chastain does not have a preference for the type or brand of product one uses, he just urges people to use something.
“It should have an SPF of 15, if not 30, and have UVA and UVB ray protections,” he said.
Among the warning signs of skin cancer are if you have fair skin, have seen a lot of sunlight over the years, get a lot of sunburns and/or have a family history of skin cancer. Also, if you note anything growing, changing, or bleeding spontaneously or if a mole becomes dark or asymmetrical it should be checked out immediately.
There has been a dramatic increase in awareness of skin cancer in recent years and Chastain stated that he has seen the survival rate increase more and more.
“It used to be a fatal diagnosis,” said Chastain. “The vast majority of skin cancer cases are caught early, are curable and are removed.”
Still, Melanoma kills 8,000 people a year, so Chastain urges skin protection and early detection.
“The sun’s intensity is at it greatest during the middle of the day and people should be especially vigilant in the summer between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” said Chastain.
There are over 35 people on staff between the two locations of Skin Cancer Specialists and they have a wealth of information and expertise that can help you if you need it. For more information, visit skincancerspecialists-newnan.com or phone 770-502-0202.