Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world.
By definition, skin cancer is a tumor, an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, on the skin. Most people get skin cancer from exposure to too much ultraviolet light, from both the sun and tanning beds.
Skin cancer is highly curable if it is treated early. Please contact our office if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Sores that do not heal
- Changes in skin texture or color
- A craterlike lesion (ulcer) on the skin that may not hurt
- Change in color, shape, or thickness of a mole
- Skin bleeding, itching or pain
In the United States, most people with skin cancer experience one of three types:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It most often occurs in places on the body that receive sun exposure including the face, head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in middle-aged and elderly people, especially those who are fair-skinned. It develops slowly and causes a lump or a small, painless, smooth-edged ulcer. A classic presentation is a pink non-healing pimple-like lesion lasting more than one to two months.
Basal cell carcinoma has a rare risk of spreading to other parts of the body and has an excellent cure rate when treated promptly.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma also results from too much sun exposure. In addition, pipe and cigar smoking can cause this type of cancer to appear on the lip. However, it may occur anywhere on the body and appears as an enlarging skin ulcer or pink, inflamed wart-like lesion.
Squamous cell carcinoma can spread to lymph nodes in advanced cases (less than 5% of cases). Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma has an excellent cure rate when treated promptly.
A melanoma usually presents as a new, odd-looking mole (two out of every three cases), but can develop from an existing benign mole (one out of every three cases). Melanoma is not as common as the other two types of skin cancer, but it is far more serious and early detection is critical for successful treatment. Melanoma is a skin cancer that can metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. The risk of metastasis correlates to the depth of the melanoma. So again, early detection is key.