Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world.  There are different types of skin cancer with different treatment options.  Skin cancer typically has a high cure rate if caught and treated early.

Most Americans will have one of these types of skin cancer:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Melanoma
What does skin cancer look like?

Different types of skin cancer will have different appearances.  Even the same kind of skin cancer can look different on different people or on different sites of the same person.  The best way to determine whether or not you have skin cancer is to come in and have suspicious lesions checked.  We recommend yearly skin checks in general and more frequent screenings in patients with a strong family or personal history of skin cancer.

The most common warning signs are changes in size, shape or color of a mole or other skin lesion or the appearance of a new growth on the skin.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can affect anyone, but some people have higher risk factors than others.  Those higher risk factors are:

  • light colored skin
  • skin that burns or freckles rather than tans
  • blond or red hair
  • blue or green eyes
  • more than 50 moles
  • irregularly shaped or darker moles
  • using or past use of indoor tanning devices
  • history of sunburns, especially peeling or blistering sunburns
  • receiving an organ transplant
  • past personal or family history of skin cancer
  • weakened immune system
  • long term x-ray therapy
  • exposure to cancer causing compounds such as arsenic or coal
  • area of skin that has been badly burned
Types of Skin Cancer
    Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
  • usually develops on areas of the skin that receive lots of sun
  • rarely spreads to other areas of the body
  • can grow deep into tissue and bone

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
  • second most common type of skin cancer
  • appears as many different things – crusted or rough bump, red, rough flat patch, dome shaped bump that grows and bleeds, sore that does not heal
  • commonly on sun exposed skin but can also develop on other areas of the body
  • smoking and chewing tobacco increases the chance of SCC in the mouth or throat
  • this type can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated
  • deadliest form of skin cancer
  • may develop on normal skin or in an existing mole
  • change to shape, color or size of a mole can be a sign
  • other changes to watch for – a mole that becomes painful or begins to bleed and itch
  • new growths, especially ones that do not match your other moles could be melanoma
  • more common in light colored skin but can develop in any skin type
Actinic Keratoses (AK)
  • common skin growths
  • considered precancerous
  • left untreated, may turn into SCC
  • most are dry, scaly, rough textured spots on the skin
  • form on skin that receives lots of exposure to the sun
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