Few forms of cancer are as successfully treated as skin cancer. Some forms are more serious than others. In every case, the more preventative measures are taken, and the earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chances of success and survival. Let’s learn more!
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It is usually caused by exposure to UV light in the form of sunlight and indoor tanning equipment. It usually appears on an area of the skin exposed to the sun, such as the face, lips, scalp, shoulders, neck, or arms, but it can appear anywhere on the body.
Basal Cell Carcinoma appears in one of many forms. An open sore that refuses to heal, or that seems to heal but reopens, is one of the most common. Red and/or irritated patches on the arm, leg, chest, shoulder, or face are also common, often accompanied by pain, itching, or crusting.
A shiny bump or nodule, appearing to be clear, white, red, or pink on lighter skin and tan, black, or brown on darker skin, may also appear. It can sometimes be mistaken for a normal birthmark.
A small, pink or reddish, slightly raised growth with a crusted-looking center and the appearance of nearby blood vessels is also a common symptom of Basal Cell Carcinoma. It may also appear as a scar-like area that is yellow and waxy or flat and white in color, appearing shiny and taut. This often indicates an invasive form of Basal Cell Carcinoma.
The second most common form of skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. As with Basal Cell Carcinoma, Melanoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, and virtually every other form of skin cancer, Squamous Cell Carcinoma is caused or triggered by exposure to UV rays in the form of sunlight or indoor tanning equipment. It can occur anywhere on the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is characterized by scaly, rough, thick patches of skin that may bleed or crust, bumps resembling warts, or open sores that refuse to heal. Growths are often raised at the edges with an itching or bleeding center.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma can also appear in pre-existing sores, scars, and other areas of injury. These areas typically exhibit wrinkling, pigment changes, loss of elasticity, and other signs of skin damage.
Melanoma is the third most common form of skin cancer, and the most serious.
Its resemblance to moles can make Melanoma harder to detect. It can also arise from moles. Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, including areas that receive little or no exposure to the sun. Dermatologists begin to identify potentially problematic moles using the “ABCDEs of Melanoma,” namely: Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving.
There are other forms of skin cancer, but Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma are the most common. Most moles, brown spots, birthmarks, and markings are harmless, but some are not. The key to surviving skin cancer is early detection. Perform regular self-examinations and annual visits to a board-certified dermatologist to get ahead of the risk and stay healthy.