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Skin Cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

Did you know at least 90% of skin cancer is caused by over exposure to the sun? At least 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin growths are classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). There are three main types of skin cancer. The most common and least serious is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), which occurs most frequently on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Basal cells caused by sun exposure appear especially on those with light hair, fair skin, and green, blue or gray eyes. A basal cell carcinoma may appear as an open sore, a reddish patch, a shiny small lump, a growth with an elevated border and central indentation, or a bump, nodule or scar-like area. It may bleed, develop a crust, seem to heal, and then bleed again. Although these tumors grow slowly over time, they can become very large and penetrate deeply.

The second type of skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) that may appear as a bump, a red scaly growth, or an ulcer. If neglected and untreated squamous cells can spread beyond the skin to the lymph nodes and internal organs.

Melanoma is the least common but most serious form of skin cancer. It usually appears as a dark brown or black mole with uneven borders and irregular colors, or has shades of black, blue, red or white. Melanoma most commonly occurs on the upper backs of men and women, and on the lower legs of women. It can also develop on the face, scalp, fingers, toes, and any other area of the body. There is a rare form of melanoma that occurs in families with many unusual or atypical moles, some of which may need to be removed to avoid problems.

A change in a mole can indicate a serious problem, If a mole becomes larger, changes color, is asymmetric, develops an irregular border, itches, crusts, bleeds, or is painful, consult your dermatologist.

Treatment for Skin Cancer

Treatment for skin cancer varies according to the location, size, aggressiveness of the cancer, and the patient's general health. In most cases, the dermatologist will take a small piece of the abnormal growth for an evaluation (biopsy). These sections of tissue are then assessed under a microscope. Forms of treatment include surgical excision, MOHS micrographic surgery, chemotherapy or perhaps radiation. Don't hesitate to contact us so we can better help you understand your treatment options.