Skin cancer is a serious condition that must be treated by a dermatologist as soon as possible. Most forms of skin cancer is a result of direct UV exposure and can often be prevented. Wearing sunscreen, sun protected clothing and avoiding the sun when its at it most danger (usually between 10am and 4pm) are some ways to prevent skin cancer. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s important to know that there are different types of skin cancers and the type of cancer that a person has will determine the treat that the physician will choose and can also help to predict certain outcomes.
Basal cell carcinoma – Although this type of cancer, which is the most common type of skin cancer, is the easiest to treat, it’s important that it’s diagnosed and treated promptly since it has been known to invade and destroy tissues in the body. Many individuals with basal cell carcinoma have lost their eyes because of this form of skin cancer. Luckily basal cell carcinoma is easier to treat than the other types of skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma often appears on sun-exposed parts of the body, such as the head, neck, legs or trunk and is more likely to occur in those with fair skin, weakened immune systems, blond or red hair as well as those with a family history of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma tumors usually looks like small dome-shaped pimples that are pearly in color and can also appear to be a sore that constantly heals and returns.
Squamous cell carcinoma – This is the second most common type of skin cancer and occurs for the same reasons as basal cell carcinoma, but it also occurs in people with a history of indoor tanning and those diagnosed with actinic keratoses. Squamous cell skin cancer tumors usually appear as a reddened and a scaly patch of skin, an non-healing ulcer or either a firm reddened lump. Squamous cell carcinoma is treatable if detected early, and if it’s allowed to grow, it can invade delicate tissues and even result in disfigurement.
Melanoma – This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and often the most deadly. Melanoma spreads quickly and must be diagnosed and treated promptly in order to prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body. Melanoma typically begins on the surface of the skin, but if allowed to spread it can quickly reach the blood stream and travel throughout the body wrecking havoc on a person’s organs. Anyone can develop melanoma, although it’s more common in fair-skinned individuals, those over the age of 50, people with weakened immune systems as well as people blue or green eyes or blond or red hair.
Other types of skin cancers – Although melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are the three most common types of skin cancers, there is Kaposi sarcoma, merkel cell carcinoma and sebaceous cell carcinoma, which are all quite rare and uncommon.
Mayo Clinic skin cancer page – www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-cancer/DS00190
American Academy of Dermatology skin cancer information – www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_basal.html