Skin Cancer Types
There are multiple types of skin cancer. Each type has its own characteristics and prognosis. Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer, and its incidence has been increasing in the past several decades. Collectively referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the most common forms of skin cancer. In all types of skin cancer, early diagnosis and treatment leads to better outcomes.
According to www.skincancer.org, about 90% of non-melanoma skin cancer and 86% of melanomas are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV). UV exposure damages the skin’s DNA which leads to uncontrolled cell growth or tumors.
At Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group, we strive to provide world-class compassionate care in our state-of-the-art facility. Contact Phoenix Surgical Dermatology Group to schedule a skin cancer check today. Do not wait. Early diagnosis and skin cancer treatment can save your life.
BCC is found primarily in fair skinned individuals on skin exposed to the sun, particularly the face, nose, eyelids, neck and chest. It typically appears as a pearly bump on the skin. It is the most common type of cancer, affecting about 3 million Americans every year. While thought to be slow-growing, BCC can lead to disfigurement if left untreated.
SCC is also primarily found on sun exposed skin and can develop on body areas not normally exposed to the sun in people with darker skin. It is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC accounts for 20% of skin cancers . SCC is the most common type of skin cancer in African Americans. A family history of SCC and melanoma are risk factors for the development of SCC. Surgical resection is a cure in most cases. If left untreated, SCC can lead to disfigurement and even death.
Actinic Keratosis is one of the most common skin conditions, estimated to affect more than 409 million Americans each year. AKs are considered precancerous skin growths caused from chronic ultraviolet (UV) exposure. People get UV exposure from tanning beds, sunlamps, or the sun. This is likely to be true because AKs tend to appear on skin that’s been most exposed to the sun. When an AK forms on the lips, it is called actinic cheilitis. Some AKs and actinic cheilitis can turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It may suddenly appear without warning, but it also can develop from or near an existing mole. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head, and neck. Because melanoma may spread to lymph nodes and internal organs, early detection and treatment are essential. New, rapidly growing moles, or moles that change, itch, or bleed are often early signs of melanoma; these should be examined by a board-certified dermatologist.
More than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma. Melanoma rates in the United States doubled from 1982 to 2011 and have continued to increase. Caucasians and men older than 50 have an increased risk of developing melanoma compared to the general population. Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer in females ages 15-29, and is increasing faster in this female age group than in males of the same age.
Melanoma can arise on anyone, but there is an increased risk for individuals who have:
- More than 50 moles, large moles, or atypical (unusual) moles.
- A blood relative (parent, sibling, child, aunt, uncle, cousin) who has had melanoma.
- Sun-sensitive skin (i.e., tendency to sunburn easily, red or blond hair, or blue or green eyes).
- A history of excessive sun exposure (including sunburns) or indoor tanning.
- A previous diagnosis of either melanoma or NMSC.
- A history of other cancers, such as breast or thyroid cancer.
Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a rare type of skin cancer that start from the connective tissue cells in the middle layer of the skin. This cancer is often diagnosed with a skin biopsy and can be locally invasive into the surrounding structures of the skin.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare type of skin cancer that usually appears as a skin -colored or bluish-red nodule, often on your face, head or neck. Merkel cell carcinoma is also called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin. Merkel cell carcinoma most often develops in older people. Long-term sun exposure or a weak immune system may increase your risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma. Merkel cell carcinoma tends to grow fast and to spread quickly to other parts of your body.
The best defense against skin cancer is developing sun protective behaviors including regular skin exams, and self-exams to optimize early detection of potentially malignant lesions. While skin cancer diagnosis is complicated, it is vital to assure you receive a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.