What Are Skin Cancers?
Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly on sun-exposed areas like the face, head, hands, arms, and legs. In addition to sun exposure, family history may also play a role. Diagnosing skin cancer usually requires a skin biopsy, where a small piece of skin is removed for examination under a microscope. If skin cancer is detected before it has spread to surrounding tissues, chances of a complete cure are excellent.
- Actinic keratoses (AKs): Actinic keratoses are a type of precancerous growth. Many people mistake AKs for age spots. AKs can also look like red, scaly growths. If you have age spots or other spots on your skin, it’s important to see a dermatologist.
Most Common Types of Skin Cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common type of skin cancer. Most BCCs are very treatable. Seeing a dermatologist early is important. BCC can grow deep, making treatment more difficult.
- Melanoma: This skin cancer can spread quickly. When treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, the cure rate is nearly 100%. Be sure you know the early signs of this very serious skin cancer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): This skin cancer tends to form on skin that has been exposed to the sun for years. When found early and treated, SCC is curable. SCC can spread, making treatment more difficult
Rare Types Of Skin Cancer
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP): DFSP grows slowly and rarely spreads. Treatment is important because DFSP can grow so deep it reaches the bone.
- Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC): This skin cancer is rare. It is also aggressive. If you have been diagnosed with MCC, find a doctor who has experience treating it.
- Sebaceous carcinoma: This cancer often begins on an eyelid. If you have a stye, chalazion, or pink eye that just won’t go away with treatment, make an appointment to see a dermatologist.
Signs & Symptoms:
- A patch of skin that is red or irritated, especially on the chest, shoulders, or limbs
- A shiny bump or nodule, especially if it appears pearly or translucent (these can look brown or reddish and resemble a mole)
- A slightly raised pink growth with a crusted depression in the center, possibly with tiny blood vessels (capillaries) visible on the surface
- A sore that comes and goes but never completely heals
- A white or yellowish waxy scar with poorly defined borders
Prevention: The best protection against skin cancer is to minimize sun exposure and use a broad spectrum sunscreen. Avoid tanning beds. Cover yourself with sun-protective clothing. Examine your skin from head to toe once every month. See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin cancer exam.
Treatment Options: Several factors determine treatment of skin cancer, including the type, size, extent, location and number of lesions, as well as your medical and family history of skin cancers. Treatment options include: medications such as 5-fluorouracil and Imiquimod cream; curettage & desiccation; and excision or Mohs surgery. Radiation and chemotherapy may also be recommended.
If skin cancer is diagnosed early and properly treated, skin cancer can be cured. Even melanoma, which can be deadly, has a cure rate of almost 100 percent when treated early.
Without early treatment, the outcome is not as favorable. Skin cancer can grow deeply. Removing the cancer can mean removing muscle and even bone. Reconstructive surgery may be needed after the surgery to remove the skin cancer. Skin cancer can spread.
If the cancer spreads, treatment can be difficult. Treatment may not cure cancer that spreads.
Early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. Call us today! 610-789- SKIN(7546) to schedule a personalized consultation.