- Find A Provider
- Schedule Appointment
Skin cancer is a condition in which the skin cells grow abnormally. While commonly found in areas of the skin that get a lot of sun, skin cancer can also happen in places that do not get a lot of sun. There are many types of skin cancer but the most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. As with all cancers, skin cancer should be taken seriously. While the five-year survival rate for some skin cancers is quite high, early detection is essential to the success of a case.
There are several skin cancer types that a doctor might diagnose as a result of a skin biopsy.
There are two different types of pre-skin cancers. If left untreated, these lesions have the potential to turn into skin cancer.
Moles or nevi are very common and a person can get new ones through early adulthood. All of these moles fall on a spectrum from being normal (no or minimal chance of turning into a skin cancer) to melanoma (see description below). On that spectrum are mild, moderate and severely dysplastic nevi which can be thought of as precancerous moles or a marker of an increased risk for melanoma. Since early detection is paramount in detecting melanoma, it is important to have regular skin checks with your provider as well as perform frequent self skin checks to monitor for any changes in your moles.
Persistent rough, scaly spots that appear on sun exposed areas due to years of sun exposure. A small percentage of these lesions left untreated can develop into skin cancer, especially squamous cell carcinoma.
There are three common types of skin cancers.
This is the most common of all skin cancers. It tends to be slow growing and frequently appears as a pinkish, translucent, pearly bump or red, scaly patch that does not heal on its own, bleeds easily or increases in size.
This cancer usually grows faster than a BCC and can rarely spread locally. It resembles a new wart-like growth that may be painful, increasing in size or bleeding easily.
While this is the least common skin cancer, it is the most dangerous due to its ability to spread. If detected early, melanoma can be completely cured. If left untreated, melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes, lungs, liver and brain.
There are a number of signs of skin cancer. These can vary based on the type of skin cancer involved.
Skin cancer can be caused by exposure to UV radiation found in sunlight and tanning beds, as well as by exposure to toxins or having an immune condition. There are many risk factors associated with an increased chance of developing skin cancer, including:
Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable with minimally-invasive treatments as long as it is detected early. For this reason, we recommend regular mole and skin cancer screenings to monitor any concerning lesions. Once a skin cancer is identified, there are multiple treatment options that your physician will discuss with you.
If a non-melanoma skin cancer is detected early and is superficial, there are a number of topical chemotherapy options that can be used. These creams, such as Imiquimod or 5-Fluorouracil, target and destroy the skin cancer cells and allow healthy skin to grow in its place.
This treatment is preferred for non-melanoma skin cancers that are superficial or the patient prefers not to have stitches.
This treatment usually requires stitches with limitation in exercise until the stitches are removed.
This procedure may be recommended as a tissue-sparing surgery often for skin cancers on the face or ears. This procedure allows the surgeon to take the smallest amount of skin and using frozen sections can check specimens for cancer while the patient waits in the office. This leads to the smallest scar possible as well as precise removal of the cancer to minimize the risk of recurrence.