What Is Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a disease that begins in the cells of the skin. The area of skin with the cancer is often called a lesion. There are several types of skin cancer . Melanoma is the most serious. But there are others that are known as nonmelanoma skin cancer. These include:
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are by far the most common.
Does Skin Cancer Feel Like A Hard Lump
Squamous cell carcinomas may also develop as a lump on the skin. These firm lumps are typically rough on the surface, unlike the smooth and pearly appearance of a basal cell carcinoma. If a nodule doesnt form, the cancer may develop more like a reddish, scaly patch.
Signs And Symptoms Of Melanoma
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.
Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than 1 colour.
The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.
Superficial spreading melanoma are the most common type of melanoma in the UK.
They’re more common in people with pale skin and freckles, and much less common in people with darker skin.
They initially tend to grow outwards rather than downwards, so they do not pose a problem.
But if they grow downwards into the deeper layers of skin, they can spread to other parts of the body.
You should see a GP if you have a mole that’s getting bigger, particularly if it has an irregular edge.
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What Does Skin Cancer Look Like On Your Face
Are you wondering what skin cancer looks like on your face? Is there a spot that is new or changing? For starters, let us just say kudos on paying attention! It is so vital to watch yourself for these things because early detection truly saves lives. Secondly, skin cancer has a variety of appearances so we will need to start by explaining exactly what skin cancer is and the types it can occur as.
What is Skin Cancer?Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the suns rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk. Research has estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. According to the American Cancer Society, about 3.3 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in America each year with an estimated 87,000+ new cases of melanoma predicted for 2020.
While rare types of skin cancer do exist, there are four main types of skin cancer:
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC often appears as a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens. SCC tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body.
Can Skin Cancer Look Like A Callus
Occasionally it begins as a hard projecting callus-like lesion. Though squamous cell cancer is painless, it may be itchy. Squamous cell cancer may resemble a plantar wart, a fungal infection, eczema, an ulcer, or other common skin conditions of the foot.
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Are Suspicious Moles Always Cancerous
Removing a suspicious mole and examining it for cancer cells is an important step in catching melanoma early, when its easiest to treat. During a skin cancer screening exam your dermatologist may find an abnormal mole. An abnormal mole could be a melanoma symptom, or it could be benign, meaning its not cancerous.
What Causes Squamous Cell Cancer
Skin cancer is caused by mutations that occur in skin cell DNA. These changes cause abnormal cells to multiply out of control. When this occurs in the squamous cells, the condition is known as SCC.
UV radiation is the most common cause of the DNA mutations that lead to skin cancer. UV radiation is found in sunlight as well as in tanning lamps and beds.
While frequent exposure to UV radiation greatly increases your risk of skin cancer, the condition can also develop in people who dont spend much time in the sun or in tanning beds.
These people may be genetically predisposed to skin cancer, or they may have weakened immune systems that increase their likelihood of getting skin cancer.
Those who have received radiation treatment may also be at greater risk of skin cancer.
Risk factors for SCC include:
- having fair skin
- having light-colored hair and blue, green, or gray eyes
- having long-term exposure to UV radiation
- living in sunny regions or at a high altitude
- having a history of multiple severe sunburns, especially if they occurred early in life
- having a history of being exposed to chemicals, such as arsenic
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Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why
Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:
- Fair skin or light-colored eyes
- An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
- Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
- Received radiation treatments
Can You Get Rid Of Flat Moles
Some moles can be removed using lasers. This is most commonly done with small, flat, non-cancerous moles. During laser removal, your doctor will use bursts of light radiation to destroy the mole tissue. To fully remove a mole using laser therapy, you may need to have two or three treatments.
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Melanomas That Could Be Mistaken For A Common Skin Problem
Melanoma that looks like a bruise
Melanoma can develop anywhere on the skin, including the bottom of the foot, where it can look like a bruise as shown here.
Melanoma that looks like a cyst
This reddish nodule looks a lot like a cyst, but testing proved that it was a melanoma.
In people of African descent, melanoma tends to develop on the palm, bottom of the foot, or under or around a nail.
Did you spot the asymmetry, uneven border, varied color, and diameter larger than that of a pencil eraser?
Dark line beneath a nail
Melanoma can develop under a fingernail or toenail, looking like a brown line as shown here.
While this line is thin, some are much thicker. The lines can also be much darker.
How To Diagnose Skin Cancer
First, a doctor will examine a personâs skin and take their medical history. They will usually ask the person when the mark first appeared, if its appearance has changed, if it is ever painful or itchy, and if it bleeds.
The doctor will also ask about the personâs family history and any other risk factors, such as lifetime sun exposure.
They may also check the rest of the body for other atypical moles and spots. Finally, they may feel the lymph nodes to determine whether or not they are enlarged.
The doctor may then refer a person to a skin doctor, or dermatologist. They may examine the mark with a dermatoscope, which is a handheld magnifying device, and take a small sample of skin, or a biopsy, and send it to a laboratory to check for signs of cancer.
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When Is A Mole A Problem
A mole is a benign growth of melanocytes, cells that gives skin its color. Although very few moles become cancer, abnormal or atypical moles can develop into melanoma over time. “Normal” moles can appear flat or raised or may begin flat and become raised over time. The surface is typically smooth. Moles that may have changed into skin cancer are often irregularly shaped, contain many colors, and are larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Most moles develop in youth or young adulthood. It’s unusual to acquire a mole in the adult years.
Flat Red Patches And Rashes
One type of cancer that affects the skin, T-cell lymphoma, often begins with very itchy, flat, red patches and plaques that are easily mistaken for eczema or psoriasis.
One type of T-cell lymphoma, mycosis fungoids, transitions from these patches to dome-shaped nodules, and then to extensive reddened areas on multiple areas of the body. It may spread to lymph nodes and other regions of the body such as the lungs, liver, and bones. T-cell lymphomas most often begin on the buttocks, groin, hips, armpits, and chest.
Other cancers, such as breast cancer, may spread to the skin and initially be mistaken for a benign rash. Inflammatory breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that originates in the skin and appears, at first, to be an eczematous type of rash.
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Biological Therapies And Melanoma
Biological therapies are treatments using substances made naturally by the body. Some of these treatments are called immunotherapy because they help the immune system fight the cancer, or they occur naturally as part of the immune system. There are many biological therapies being researched and trialled, which in the future may help treat people with melanoma. They include monoclonal antibodies and vaccine therapy.
What Is The Treatment For Skin Cancer
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is straightforward. Usually, surgical removal of the lesion is adequate. Malignant melanoma, however, may require several treatment methods, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy or both. Because of the complexity of treatment decisions, people with malignant melanoma may benefit from the combined expertise of the dermatologist, a cancer surgeon, and a medical oncologist.
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How Is Squamous Cell Cancer Diagnosed
Your doctor will first perform a physical exam and inspect any abnormal areas for signs of SCC. Theyll also ask you about your medical history. If SCC is suspected, your doctor may decide to take a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
A biopsy usually involves removing a very small portion of the affected skin. The skin sample is then sent to a laboratory for testing.
In some cases, your doctor may need to remove a larger part or all of the abnormal growth for testing. Talk to your doctor about any potential scarring or biopsy concerns.
Treatment for SCC varies. Treatment is based on:
- the extent and severity of your cancer
- your age
- your overall health
- the location of the cancer
If SCC is caught early, the condition can usually be successfully treated. It becomes harder to cure once it has spread. Many treatments can be performed as in-office procedures.
Some doctors may also use photodynamic therapy, laser surgery, and topical medications to treat SCC. However, the Food and Drug Administration hasnt approved these methods for treating SCC:
Once SCC has been treated, its critical to attend all follow-up visits with your doctor. SCC can return, and its important to monitor your skin for any precancerous or cancerous areas at least once per month.
Treating Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Most of squamous cell carcinomas can be cured if they are treated early. Once squamous cell carcinoma has spread beyond the skin, though, less than half of people live five years, even with aggressive treatment.
There are many ways to treat squamous cell carcinoma that has not spread. These include:
- cutting away the cancer and a small amount of healthy tissue around it. If a large area of skin is removed, a skin graft may be necessary.
- scraping away the cancer with a surgical tool. An electric probe is used to kill any cancerous cells left behind.
- freezing cancer cells with liquid nitrogen. This treatment is usually used only for very small tumors or for a patch of skin that looks abnormal but isn’t yet cancerous.
- destroying the tumor with radiation.
- shaving away the cancer, one thin layer at a time. Each layer is examined under the microscope as it is removed. This technique helps the doctor preserve as much healthy skin as possible.
- applying drugs directly to the skin or injecting them into the tumor
- using a narrow laser beam to destroy the cancer.
The treatment that is best for you depends on the size and location of the cancer, whether it has returned after previous treatment, your age, and your general health.
Once your treatment is finished, it’s important to have regular follow-up skin exams. Your doctor may want to see you every three months for the first year, for example, and then less often after that.
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Are Cancer Lumps Hard Or Soft
Bumps that are cancerous are typically large, hard, painless to the touch and appear spontaneously. The mass will grow in size steadily over the weeks and months. Cancerous lumps that can be felt from the outside of your body can appear in the breast, testicle, or neck, but also in the arms and legs.
Tools That Can Help You Find Melanoma On Your Skin
To help you find melanoma early, the American Academy of Dermatology developed the following:
Melanoma can look different on a childs skin. Taking this short quiz can help you hone your skills at finding childhood melanoma.
ImagesImages 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,10: Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Image 9: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
ReferencesBarnhill RL, Mihm MC, et al. Malignant melanoma. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 140-167.
Gloster HM Jr, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 55:741-60.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN guidelines for patients: Melanoma. 2018. Last accessed February 12, 2019.
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The Abcdes Of Melanoma
To help people find a possible melanoma on their skin, dermatologists created the ABCDEs of melanoma:
|A is for Asymmetry|
If you find a spot on your skin that has any of the ABCDEs of melanoma, see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin exam.
The following pictures can help you see how the ABCDEs of melanoma can appear on the skin.
The Warning Signs Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancers — including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma — often start as changes to your skin. They can be new growths or precancerous lesions — changes that are not cancer but could become cancer over time. An estimated 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to be 65 will develop at least one skin cancer. Learn to spot the early warning signs. Skin cancer can be cured if it’s found and treated early.
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Diagnosing Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The main way to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma is with a biopsy. This involves having a small piece of tissue removed from the suspicious area and examined in a laboratory.
In the laboratory, a pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is a skin cancer. He or she will also stage the cancer by the number of abnormal cells, their thickness, and the depth of penetration into the skin. The higher the stage of the tumor, the greater the chance it could spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma on sun-exposed areas of skin usually does not spread. However, squamous cell carcinoma of the lip, vulva, and penis are more likely to spread. Contact your doctor about any sore in these areas that does not go away after several weeks.
Most Melanomas Are Flat And Dark
This is a common question that I am asked during skin consultations. My patients are frequently worried about a raised mole. This may have been present for a long time. If the mole has recently risen it needs to be checked out. Sometimes they are irritated by rubbing on clothes or being pulled from the base. They may get inflamed or infected which makes them to swell and be sore. If you have a changing mole that is bleeding, crusty or sore, or changing in any shape or from it needs to be checked with a dermoscope by a experienced skin cancer doctor.
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What Are The Different Types Of Skin Cancer
Your skin has multiple layers. The outer, protective layer of the skin is known as the epidermis. The epidermis is made up of squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. These cells are constantly shedding to make way for fresh, new skin cells.
However, when certain genetic changes occur in the DNA of any of these cells, skin cancer can occur. The main types of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.