Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Skin cancers are due to abnormal growth of skin cells which can be caused by excessive or prolonged sun exposure. Annual skin checks can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. For patients with an increased risk of skin cancer, skin checks every 3 to 6 months may be required. There are several options for treatment for skin cancers based on the skin cancer type and severity.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Basal cell carcinomas are common on sun-exposed areas but may also develop on sun-protected areas. Basal cell carcinomas are slow growing cancers that rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Basal cell carcinomas can appear on the skin in many ways. A classic basal cell carcinoma appears as a dome-shaped pink papule (or bump) on sun-exposed skin. These papules commonly will have visible blood vessels within them. Most basal cell carcinomas appear without symptoms though some spots may experience bleeding or as crusted non-healing sores.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer. Similar to Basal cell carcinoma, this skin cancer commonly develops on excessively sun exposed skin such as the head, neck, ears and back of the hands. Squamous cell carcinoma can develop on any part of the body.
Squamous cell carcinomas appear on the skin as rough, often scaly bumps on the skin. Some Squamous cell carcinomas begin in a pre-cancerous growth called actinic keratoses.
Melanoma is a skin cancer of the melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells in the skin responsible for producing melanin and thus skin pigment or color. Melanomas can grow from pre-existing moles or nevi and also may grow from other areas of the skin. Melanoma can be deadly if allowed to grow as it can spread quickly to other parts of the body.
Melanoma can appear on the body in many ways. Common ways that melanoma can show up on your skin include, but are not limited to:
- New irregularly colored spot on the skin
- Changes to an existing mole
- Dark streak around or under a fingernail or toenail
Any person can get a melanoma regardless of race or ethnicity. The risk of melanoma increases in people with excessive ultraviolet light exposure, fair skin, presence of large moles or over 50 moles and/or a family history of melanoma.