What is Skin Cancer

Developmental Phases of Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.  It is a disease that affects the body’s skin cells as a result of damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and/or tanning beds.  The epidermis, the outside layer of the skin, contains three types of cells: squamous cells, Human Skin Anatomybasal cells and melanocytes. This is where the names of the forms of skin cancer come from: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell skin cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and usually occurs in places that have been over exposed to the sun.   The most common place is the face.

Watch for:

  • open sore similar to a pimple
  • red patch
  • pink hard growth
  • “pearly” bump

Only in rare cases can Basal Cell Cancers spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.

Squamous cell skin cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually occurs on parts of the skin that have been in the sun such as the face, head, ears, and neck. They may, however, occur on all areas of the body including mucous membranes and genitals.

What to look for:

  • scaly red patches
  • open sores
  • elevated growths with a central depression,
  • bleeding or crusty sore

A small percentage of these metastasize to distant tissues or organs and can become fatal.   Squamous cell treatment depends on the type, size, location, and depth of the skin tumor.

Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer and can occur on any surface of the skin.   If left untreated, it is more likely than other skin cancers to spread to other parts of the body.  When cancer cells do spread, called metastasis, they break away from the original growth and enter the blood vessels or lymph vessels.melanoma

Melanoma skin cancer can appear as a new mole or in an existing mole. They are generally more than one color and have irregular borders.

What to Look for: The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

  • Asymmetry- If you draw a line through a mole and the two sides do not match
  • Border- irregular edges
  • Color- A variety of colors which may include brown, tan, black, red, white, and blue
  • Diameter- larger than a pencil eraser but may be smaller if found early
  • EVOLVING– Changes in size, shape, or color

Male doctor examining mole or melanoma on back of woman in clinic

We offer skin cancer screenings to help in detecting skin cancer early. We will work to promptly diagnose and treat any skin problems we find. You do not have to face skin cancer alone. We are your skin cancer specialists.

Call us at 208-522-(SKIN) 7546