How Quickly Can Skin Cancer Grow
When doctors talk about skin cancer, they often reiterate the point that its important to catch any potential issues early in order to have the best chance of recovery. But exactly how quickly can skin cancer grow? Is it safe to wait a week after noticing something strange on your skin? How long should you wait before deciding that a spot is just a spot?
What Is Skin Cancer?
The term skin cancer actually encompasses a collection of different skin cancers, each with its own symptoms and potential growth rate. Some forms of skin cancer are considered to be less aggressive, such as basal cell carcinoma, while others are considered more aggressive, such as squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma. The growth rate will depend on the person and type of skin cancer, explains Dr. Azeen Sadeghian, board certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For example, some forms of skin cancer grow in a matter of weeks and others over months, she continues.
How Do I Spot It?
Dermatologists have come up with an easier way to gauge if your spot is of concern with the ABCs of Skin Cancer!
- A Asymmetry
- B Border Irregular
- C Color
- D Diameter
- E Evolving
Skin Cancer Detection & Treatment
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.
Factors Other Than Growth Rate
The chance that a tumor will spread often depends on factors other than the growth rate or doubling time.
Previously, it was thought that a tumor had to reach a certain size, first spread to lymph nodes, and then onward from there. We know now that this simply isn’t the case. Instead, it may be specific mutations in the tumor, or the normal cells around it, that allow new cancer cells to grow in that organ or tissue.
First, the cancer cells need to “escape.” Normal cells have molecules that hold them together. Different mutations in cancer cells can make it easier or harder to break loose. Then they have to travel through either the blood, lymphatic system, or airways.
Spreading through the lymphatic system takes longer, but spread through the bloodstream can “seed” cancer cells to other parts of the body much faster and sometimes, long before the tumor is found. Tumor cells in the bloodstream are common even in very early-stage NSCLC.
Most of the cancer cells that arrive in a new body location will die off. For growth to occur, the cells need a blood supply as well as a change in the environment so that the immune system doesn’t attack them. To do this, they need to communicate with normal cells nearby. It could be that some lung cancer cells develop new mutations that allow them to establish blood supply in a new region more easily, rather than growing in size and spreading via lymph nodes.
You May Like: What Is The Survival Rate For Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Answer: How Quickly Does A Basal Cell Carcinoma Grow
Basal cell carcinomas typically grow slowly, but they can be invasive and destructive over time. The location also matters. 2mm of growth in the middle of the back would not make much difference. 2mm of growth on the nose or eyelid would have a greater impact. Mohs surgery is typically the best option in the more sensitive areas since it has the highest cure rate and allows the preservation of the surrounding healthy tissue.
How Can I Tell If I Have Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is actually one of the easiest cancers to find. Thats because skin cancer usually begins where you can see it.
You can get skin cancer anywhere on your skin from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet. Even if the area gets little sun, its possible for skin cancer to develop there.
You can also get skin cancer in places that may surprise you. Skin cancer can begin under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.
Recommended Reading: Does Skin Cancer Make You Lose Hair
Stages Of Melanoma: Growth Patterns And Stages Of Skin Cancer
Melanocytes, a layer of cells in the skin produce melanin, a brown-black skin pigment that determines skin and hair color and protect against the damaging rays of the sun. These melanocytes spread as the person ages and form clusters.
The controlled proliferation of melanocytes is non-cancerous and cause moles and freckles. At times, however the growth of melanocytes goes out of control and develops into cancerous and life-threatening melanoma. Such uncontrolled growth cause moles with uneven shape, dark color, or mixed color. The causes of such uncontrolled growth is usually excessive sun exposure during childhood, fair skin that burns easily, and certain hereditary conditions
Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
This is the second most common form of skin cancer, it occurs most commonly on the head and neck, and exposed arms. However, these are frequently seen on the front of the legs as well, or the shin area. This form of skin cancer grows more quickly, and though it can be confined to the top layer of skin, it frequently grows roots. Squamous cell carcinoma can be more aggressive and does have a potential to spread internally. This is more likely in cases where an individual is immunosuppressed, or the tumor is invading deeply in the second layer of skin, or tracking along nerves. These tumors need to be treated early as they are not only locally destructive, but can spread along nerves, into lymph nodes, and internally.
You May Like: Skin Cancer Metastasis To Lymph Nodes
How Does Skin Cancer Grow
How Fast Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Grow
From what I have read, basal cell carcinoma tends to be slow growing. What exactly does that mean? I am 43 years old and have a BCC located just below my nose and scheduled for Mohs surgery on Tuesday. I have had the BCC for at least 5 years, probably longer. My surgeon tells me that there is no way to know how much tissue will be removed until surgery. Immediately following the Mohs surgery, I will see a plastic surgeon to repair the wound. My bcc is pink slightly elevated with a rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. When i went to the dermatologist, he knew right away just from looking at it that it was a BCC, biopsy confirmed. Do they grow at a certain rate? I just want to be prepared. Any information will be helpful.
Don’t Miss: Cancer All Over Body Symptoms
How Fast Does Melanoma Spread
Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer because of its ability to metastasize to local lymph nodes and other organs. It is estimated that melanoma kills, on average, over 10,000 people in the United States every year.
The first sign of flat melanoma is usually a new spot or an existing mole or freckle that changes in appearance. Some changes can include:
- A spot that has grown in size
- A spot where the edges are looking irregular versus smooth and even
- A spot that has a range of colors such as brown, black, blue, red, white or light gray.
- A spot that has become itchy or is bleeding
According to Dr. Andrew Duncanson, board-certified dermatologist at Forefront Dermatology, It is important to know that melanoma can appear on areas of the skin not normally exposed to the sun such as under the arm, chest, and buttocks. It can also appear in areas that you are not able to see easily on your own including the ears, scalp, back of legs, and bottom of feet. I always recommend to my patients to look for the ugly duckling spot the new spot that doesnt look like any others. Additionally, ask a family member to look over the hard to see areas monthly, while also getting an annual skin cancer exam by a board-certified dermatologist to detect skin cancer early.
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.
How Common Is Subungual Melanoma
Subungual melanoma is a very infrequent cancer, accounting for approximately 5% of all cases of melanoma. Usually, it is located on the thumb and the big toe. The average age of people affected by this type of cancer is between 60 and 70 years old. Then, subungual melanoma is a rare pathology that, due to a late diagnosis, it is complex to predict. Sometimes it is confused with a subungual hematoma, which is a common trivial pathology. Therefore, subungual melanoma is the most common type of melanoma diagnosed in highly pigmented individuals.
Alternative Treatment Options: Radiation Therapy
For Squamous and Basal cell cancer, Mohs surgery is often not the only viable treatment option. The invasive nature of Mohs surgery coupled with the possibility of scarring and the need for antibiotics following the procedure makes some patients uneasy.
If you are searching for a non-invasive alternative, youll want to learn more about Image Guided Superficial Radiotherapy . IG-SRT uses Ultrasound Imaging and Superficial Radiotherapy to treat Basal and Squamous cell cancers with a precise, measured dose of radiation delivered directly under the patients skin surface. It is completely non-invasive and has less of an effect on the patients daily life post-treatment, with no scarring, no need for antibiotics, and no requirement to stop taking certain medications prior to the procedure.
Recommended Reading: What Is Braf Testing In Melanoma
How Common Is It
Overall, skin cancers are the most common cancers in the United States. But melanoma is less common than the other two major types, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
Each year about 91,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with melanoma of the skin, according to the American Cancer Society. By comparison, about 3.3 million are diagnosed with one or more basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas.
Every Cancer Is Different
First, it’s important to note that every person is different, and so is every cancer. Even two lung cancers of the same type and stage may behave quite differently at the molecular level.
Not every cancer grows at the same rate. Even if they did, and you have reliable estimates for growth rate, you still need more information to make decisions about your lung cancer care.
One issue is the timing between a diagnosis and the start of treatment, and how that affects outcomes. In some cases, waiting a month for test results may lead to better outcomes than beginning treatment right away. That’s especially true when targeted therapies are available for specific gene mutations.
Lung cancer growth rates are essential to know. But as cancer care becomes more personal, with cutting-edge treatments that target specific genetic changes, it’s not the only thing to know. The type of lung cancer and other factors contribute to how cancer cells will grow and spread.
What Stages Have To Do With Cancer Spread
Cancers are staged according to tumor size and how far it has spread at the time of diagnosis. Stages help doctors decide which treatments are most likely to work and give a general outlook.
There are different types of staging systems and some are specific to certain types of cancer. The following are the basic stages of cancer:
- In situ. Precancerous cells have been found, but they havent spread to surrounding tissue.
- Localized. Cancerous cells havent spread beyond where they started.
- Regional. Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.
- Distant. Cancer has reached distant organs or tissues.
- Unknown. Theres not enough information to determine the stage.
- Stage 0 or CIS. Abnormal cells have been found but have not spread into surrounding tissue. This is also called precancer.
- Stages 1, 2, and 3. The diagnosis of cancer is confirmed. The numbers represent how large the primary tumor has grown and how far the cancer has spread.
- Stage 4. Cancer has metastasized to distant parts of the body.
Your pathology report may use the TNM staging system, which provides more detailed information as follows:
T: Size of primary tumor
- TX: primary tumor cant be measured
- T0: primary tumor cant be located
- T1, T2, T3, T4: describes the size of the primary tumor and how far it may have grown into surrounding tissue
N: Number of regional lymph nodes affected by cancer
M: Whether cancer has metastasized or not
When Can Lung Cancer First Be Detected
Talk about doubling size raises the question of when lung cancer can first be detected. Lung cancer is most treatable in the early stages. Unfortunately, it’s still the case that most people have an advanced-stage tumor when they are diagnosed.
It’s thought that the average size at which lung cancers can be detected on a chest X-ray is 10 mm to 20 mm. But on chest CT, tumors as small as 6 mm can often be seen.
The difference is clear. Medical providers now know that while screening chest X-rays didn’t save lives, screening chest CT scans clearly do save lives.
You May Like: How Long Does It Take For Melanoma To Metastasize
How Common Is Melanoma
Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers, but causes the great majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Its one of the most common cancers in young people under 30, especially in young women.
Melanoma incidence has dramatically increased over the past 30 years. Its widely accepted that increasing levels of ultraviolet exposure are one of the main reasons for this rapid rise in the number of melanoma cases.
What Are The Signs Of Melanoma
Knowing how to spot melanoma is important because early melanomas are highly treatable. Melanoma can appear as moles, scaly patches, open sores or raised bumps.
Use the American Academy of Dermatology’s “ABCDE” memory device to learn the warning signs that a spot on your skin may be melanoma:
- Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
- Border: The edges are not smooth.
- Color: The color is mottled and uneven, with shades of brown, black, gray, red or white.
- Diameter: The spot is greater than the tip of a pencil eraser .
- Evolving: The spot is new or changing in size, shape or color.
Some melanomas don’t fit the ABCDE rule, so tell your doctor about any sores that won’t go away, unusual bumps or rashes or changes in your skin or in any existing moles.
Another tool to recognize melanoma is the ugly duckling sign. If one of your moles looks different from the others, its the ugly duckling and should be seen by a dermatologist.
Also Check: Can You Die From Basal Cell Skin Cancer
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.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Stages
There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage basal cell carcinomas. These include:
- Greater than 2 mm in thickness
- Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
- Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
- Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip
After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is given a stage. For basal cell carcinoma staging, the factors are grouped and labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of basal cell carcinoma are:
Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.
Stage 1 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.
Stage 2 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high-risk features.
Stage 3 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.
Stage 4 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.
You May Like: Does Skin Cancer Burn And Itch