What are the different forms of skin cancer?
The three most common forms of skin cancer are:
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) affects over one million Americans every year. SCCs are usually scaly red patches or open sores with central depressions, or sometimes they appear in the form of warts, and they may crust or bleed. Constant exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds can cause SCCs.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) affects four million Americans each year, making it the most common form of skin cancer. BCCs typically look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. BCCs are caused by long-term exposure to sunlight, as well as occasional, intensive exposure that leads to sunburn.
- Melanoma skin cancer is less common than the other two types, but it’s more likely to spread and grow in other parts of the body. Look for unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, or markings on your skin that change in look or feel. Exposure to sunlight, family history, and your skin type determine your risk for melanoma.
Are you at risk for skin cancer?
The primary cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation, which includes your cumulative exposure to natural sunlight and tanning booths. Cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it’s most likely develop in areas exposed to sunlight such as your face, neck, and arms.
Anyone can develop skin cancer, but you’re at a greater risk if you have any of the following:
- Blue or green eyes
- Blond or red hair
- Fair skin that burns easily
- History of sunburn, especially in early childhood
- Large number of moles on your body
- Family history of skin cancer
- Spend a lot of time outdoors, especially near water
How is skin cancer treated?
After performing a skin biopsy to verify the diagnosis, an individualized treatment plan is developed based on the type of cancer and its stage of growth. The goal is to remove all the cancer, which may be achieved using techniques such as:
- Scraping: cancerous tissues scraped from healthy tissue
- Surgical excision: cancerous area cut away
- Topical medications: treat superficial skin cancers
In severe cases where cancer has spread, a team is assembled to coordinate cancer removal with other cancer treatments. Skin cancers are treatable when caught and treated early, so please don’t hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions about moles, discolorations, or bumps on your skin.