Basal Cell Cancer
Basal Cell Cancer is the most common form of skin cancer and affects nearly one million Americans each year. A major factor that contributes to the development of basal cell cancer is sun exposure particularly on the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. Those who have fair skin, blond or red hair, and blue, green, or grey eyes are most at risk. In rare instances, tumors can also develop on unexposed area and may be a result of exposure to radiation, non-healing wounds, chronic inflammatory skin conditions, and complications of burns, scars, infections, vaccinations, or even tattoos. Although Basal cell cancer is most often seen in older people, the average age of onset for new patients has been decreasing.
When diagnosed early, basal cell cancer is easily treated. Although is does not metastasize to other parts of the skin or organs, larger tumors can grow and invade and destroy surrounding tissue leading to disfigurement.
Basal cell carcinoma can present in many different ways including non-healing sores or red patches, shiny bumps that may or may not have some pigment, pink indented growths with rolled borders and tiny blood vessels on the surface, or scar-like patches with poorly defined borders.
Squamous Cell Cancer
Almost a quarter million of Americans will develop squamous cell cancer each year. Just as with basal cell cancer, it occurs most commonly on sun exposed areas. In a small percentage of cases, the tumor spreads (metastasizes) to other tissue and vital organs and can be deadly. High risk areas are most often in areas of chronic inflammation and mucous membranes. They can be completely and easily cured when treated early.
Just as with Basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer can present in a variety of ways including a scaly red patch that may bleed, a non-healing ulcer that may or may not bleed, or a crusted wart-like growth that may bleed.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Fortunately, if detected early, it is completely and 100% curable. The American cancer Society estimates that nearly 68,720 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma this year with over 1/8 of these cases resulting in death.
Make sure you know the warning signs of melanoma
— Know you ABCDE‘s
1. Asymmetry– the two sides of a mole do not match
2. Border– The edges of early melanoma are often uneven and scalloped
3. Color– Having a variety of colors, and being especially dark compared to other moles is also a warning sign.
4. Diameter – Although they may be smaller, melanomas are usually larger than the head of a pencil eraser.
5. Evolving– Lesions that have suddenly changed in any way- color, shape, borders, elevation, bleeding, itching, crusting, should be evaluated by a dermatologist.
Information courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society