Melanoma Can Be Tricky
Identifying a potential skin cancer is not easy, and not all melanomas follow the rules. Melanomas come in many forms and may display none of the typical warning signs.
Its also important to note that about 20 to 30 percent of melanomas develop in existing moles, while 70 to 80 percent arise on seemingly normal skin.
Amelanotic melanomas are missing the dark pigment melanin that gives most moles their color. Amelanotic melanomas may be pinkish, reddish, white, the color of your skin or even clear and colorless, making them difficult to recognize.
Acral lentiginous melanoma, the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, often appears in hard-to-spot places, including under the fingernails or toenails, on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
The takeaway: Be watchful for any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin, a sore or spot that does not heal, any existing mole that starts changing or any spot, mole or lesion that looks unusual.
Acral lentiginous melanoma is the most common melanoma found in people of color.
What Is A Basal Cell
One of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin, basal cells shed as new ones form. BCC most often occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning triggers changes in basal cells in the outermost layer of skin , resulting in uncontrolled growth.
What Happens During Mohs Surgery
During Mohs Surgery a dermatologic surgeon outlines the lesion with ink to map the tumor. After a local anesthetic is injected, the doctor removes the thinnest possible layer of cancerous tissue. While the patient waits, that layer is processed in an onsite pathology lab. The surgery is very precise and can last for hours.
If skin cancer is still in the layer of skin, the dermatologic surgeon can identify the precise location of the remaining cancerous cells. At that point, the surgeon can take another layerand the process is repeated until all cancerous tissue has been removed.
I spoke to a number of people who had Mohs Surgery before my appointment. Everyones account of the procedure was sort of the same Its not so bad! Patients can bring along a book, iPad, or music to listen to anything to stay busy since surgery may take a long time.
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What Is A Basal Cell Tumor
A basal cell tumor is an abnormal growth/mass resulting from the uncontrolled division of basal cells. Basal cells make up the bottom layer of the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. The epidermis lies above the dermis , and the hypodermis . The basal layer is essentially the bottom and defensive layer of the epidermis. It contains many different types of cells, including those involved with inflammation.
Basal cell tumors are one of the most common skin tumors in dogs and cats. A basal cell carcinoma is a type of basal cell tumor that is malignant or cancerous. Less than 10% of basal cell tumors are malignant.
Treatment For Cancer That Spreads
Very rarely, basal cell carcinoma may spread to nearby lymph nodes and other areas of the body. Additional treatment options in this situation include:
Targeted drug therapy. Targeted drug treatments focus on specific weaknesses present within cancer cells. By blocking these weaknesses, targeted drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.
Targeted therapy drugs for basal cell carcinoma block molecular signals that enable the cancers to continue growing. They might be considered after other treatments or when other treatments aren’t possible.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. It might be an option when other treatments haven’t helped.
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Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Really Malignant
Q. How can basal cell carcinoma be considered both malignant and invasive if it never metastasizes? I thought we learned that one of the characteristics that defines the term malignant is metastasis. And if a tumor is invasive, how can it not metastasize?
A. Your question is a great one. First of all, you are correct in saying that basal cell carcinoma is considered malignant, and it is definitely invasivebut it never metastasizes. That sure seems incongruous.
When youre trying to tell whether a tumor is benign or malignant, there are four features that you can use: differentiation/anaplasia, rate of growth, local invasion and metastasis.
Lets just review those features quickly:
1. Differentiation/anaplasiaDifferentiation refers to how much the tumor cells resemble their cell of origin . Tumors can be well-differentiated , moderately-differentiated , or poorly-differentiated . The word anaplasia means a state of complete un-differentiation . Benign tumors tend to be more well-differentiated malignant tumors tend to be less well-differentiated. Anaplasia almost always indicates malignancy.
Note the words tend to and almost always in the last sentence. This particular characteristic, and most of the others that we will discuss, have nice generalizations like that . The one characteristic that has an always/never in it is metastasis .
2. Rate of growthHeres another generalization: malignant tumors tend to grow faster than benign ones.
Here Are The Fascinating Connections Between Basal Cell Carcinoma Development And Stress Experience Found In This Scientific Study:
- Among basal cell cancer patients who experienced a recent severe life event, those who were emotionally maltreated by their mothers or fathers as children were more likely to have poorer immune responses.
- At the same time, childhood emotional maltreatment was unrelated to basal cell carcinoma immune response among those who had not experienced a stressful life event.
that stressful events and the negative emotions generated by them, especially early in life, can dysregulate immunity enough to produce clinically significant changes, such as impaired responses to vaccines, slowed wound healing, promotion of inflammation, and dampened markers in both innate and adaptive immune function. They explained further that childhood maltreatment has been associated with elevated inflammation and higher antibody titers to the herpes simplex virus type 1 and to multiple diseases including cancer the immune system plays a prominent role in BCC tumor appearance and progression.
There’s a really important take-home message here for all of us…..
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What To Expect From Your Doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first notice this skin growth or lesion?
- Has it grown significantly since you first found it?
- Is the growth or lesion painful?
- Do you have any other growths or lesions that concern you?
- Have you had a previous skin cancer?
- Has anyone in your family had skin cancer? What kind?
- How much exposure to the sun or tanning beds did you have as a child and teenager?
- How much exposure to the sun or tanning beds do you have now?
- Are you currently taking any medications, dietary supplements or herbal remedies?
- Have you ever received radiation therapy for a medical condition?
- Have you ever taken medications that suppress your immune system?
- What other significant medical conditions have you been treated for, including in your childhood?
- Do you or did you smoke? How much?
- Do you now have or have you ever had a job that may have exposed you to pesticides or herbicides?
- Do you now use or have you used well water as your primary water source?
- Do you take precautions to stay safe in the sun, such as avoiding midday sun and using sunscreen?
- Do you examine your own skin on a regular basis?
Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer, which commonly presents as a sore that seems to get better and then recurs and may start to bleed. Basal cell carcinoma often occurs on the face and neck, where the skin is exposed to sunlight. These tumors are locally invasive and tend to burrow in but not metastasize to distant locations.
MedicineNet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.
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Treating Basal Cell Carcinoma
Several types of treatment can be used to remove or destroy basal cell skin cancers. The options depend on factors such as the tumor size and location, and a persons age, general health, and preferences. These cancers very rarely spread to other parts of the body, although they can grow into nearby tissues if not treated.
All of the treatments listed here can be effective when used in appropriate situations. The chance of the cancer coming back ranges from less than 5% after Mohs surgery to up to 15% or higher after some of the others, but this depends on the size of the tumor. Small tumors are less likely to recur than larger ones. Even if a tumor does recur, it can often still be treated effectively.
Examples Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma In A Sentence
squamous cell carcinoma Health.comsquamous cell carcinomaUSA TODAYsquamous cell carcinomaAlluresquamous cell carcinoma Glamoursquamous cell carcinoma Los Angeles Timessquamous cell carcinomaUSA TODAYsquamous cell carcinoma USA TODAYsquamous cell carcinomaCNN
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word ‘squamous cell carcinoma.’ Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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What Are The Signs Of Basal Cell Tumors
Basal cell tumors vary in size , and most commonly appear as a single, firm, hairless, raised mass in the skin, often on the head, neck, or shoulders. Occasionally they may be cystic or ulcerate, and some may stick out like stalks from the skin surface. The tumors are sometimes pigmented, especially in cats.
Although these tumors are not usually bothersome, if they develop in an area that can be scratched or chewed, there is the risk of self-trauma and infection. Your pet should not be allowed to scratch, bite, or lick these areas. Without surgery, these tumors may continue to grow and make surgical removal more difficult. For this reason, it is best to have your veterinarian evaluate any abnormal growths or bumps as soon as you notice them.
What Are Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common types of skin cancer. They start in the top layer of skin , and are often related to sun exposure.
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells. To learn more about cancer and how it starts and spreads, see What Is Cancer?
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One Week After Mohs Surgery
After a week I went back to the surgeon to have the stitches removed. It was a quick procedure and not too painful. I was mostly uncomfortable while she removed the sharp stitches. Once the stitches were removed the surgeon assessed how I was healing. He said the scar looked great, but I would still need 4-6 weeks to heal completely.
The nurse applied steri strips to cover the scar which fell off two weeks later. Showering and sleep became a bit easier, but the area on my face remained sensitive to touch. I could also feel pain underneath the skin on my face .
Its been six weeks since I had Mohs Surgery to remove skin cancer on my face. In a few days I will see the surgeon for my final post op appointment. The scar feels bumpy and I hope its healed well. I will be back with an update soon!
NOTE: There are different treatments for Basal Cell Carcinoma based on the stage of the skin cancer. Some treatments include Curettage and Electrodesiccation, Excision, Mohs Surgery, or Radiation. The first two procedures are not as invasive as Mohs Surgery and can be done in office. Mohs surgery is especially useful in treating cancers that are at higher risk for coming back, such as large tumors, tumors where the edges are not well-defined, tumors in certain locations .
Non Melanoma Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is often categorized into either melanoma or non melanoma. Non melanoma skin cancer occurs in either basal or squamous cells. These cells are located at the base of the outer layer of the skin or cover the internal and external surfaces of the body. Non melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It is very difficult to gather statistics on non melanoma skin cancer because it usually does not enter the cancer data collection system since It is usually treated successfully by dermatologists in their office and therefore does not require hospitalization. Therefore, non melanoma skin cancer statistics are mostly estimates. Most non melanoma skin cancers develop on sun exposed areas of the body, like the face, neck, and the backs of the hands.
My Mohs Surgery Experience For Basal Cell Carcinoma
My Mohs Surgery experience for Basal Cell Carcinoma on my face. This post contains GRAPHIC before and after photos of Mohs Surgery for skin cancer.
When I was diagnosed with skin cancer, I thought it would be a quick in-office laser procedure by my dermatologist. However, my Basal Cell Carcinoma removal was not that simple. The most effective skin cancer treatment for Basal Cell Carcinoma is Mohs Surgery. The benefit of Mohs Surgery is the preservation of your healthy skin while removing all of the skin cancer cells.
The skin cancer on the side of my cheek grew deeply into my face. Thankfully the Basal Cell Carcinoma did not enter any bones or spread over a larger outer surface area. The lesion was the size of a quarter before the surgeon removed all of the cancerous cells. The cancer free area after surgery was three times the size as the original spot.
Taking Care Of Yourself
After you’ve been treated for basal cell carcinoma, you’ll need to take some steps to lower your chance of getting cancer again.
Check your skin. Keep an eye out for new growths. Some signs of cancer include areas of skin that are growing, changing, or bleeding. Check your skin regularly with a hand-held mirror and a full-length mirror so that you can get a good view of all parts of your body.
Avoid too much sun. Stay out of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s UVB burning rays are strongest.
Use sunscreen. The suns UVA rays are present all day long — thats why you need daily sunscreen. Make sure you apply sunscreen with at least a 6% zinc oxide and a sun protection factor of 30 to all parts of the skin that aren’t covered up with clothes every day. You also need to reapply it every 60 to 80 minutes when outside.
Dress right. Wear a broad-brimmed hat and cover up as much as possible, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
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What Causes These Types Of Tumors
The reason why a particular pet may develop this, or any tumor or cancer, is not straightforward. Very few tumors and cancers have a single known cause. Most seem to be caused by a complex mix of risk factors, some environmental and some genetic or hereditary. Certain breeds of dogs and cats are more likely to develop basal cell tumors, including Wirehaired Pointing Griffons, Kerry Blue and Wheaten Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, and Siamese cats.
Where Do Skin Cancers Start
Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:
- Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form. When these cells grow out of control, they can develop into squamous cell skin cancer .
- Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skins surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells. Skin cancers that start in the basal cell layer are called basal cell skin cancers or basal cell carcinomas.
- Melanocytes: These cells make the brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin acts as the bodys natural sunscreen, protecting the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma skin cancer starts in these cells.
The epidermis is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. When a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it generally grows through this barrier and into the deeper layers.
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Skin Grafting And Reconstructive Surgery
After surgery to remove a large basal or squamous cell skin cancer, it may not be possible to stretch the nearby skin enough to stitch the edges of the wound together. In these cases, healthy skin can be taken from another part of the body and grafted over the wound to help it heal and to restore the appearance of the affected area. Other reconstructive surgical procedures, such as moving ‘flaps’ of nearby skin over the wound, can also be helpful in some cases.
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.
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