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.
A Dangerous Skin Cancer
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that begins in cells known as melanocytes. While it is less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma is more dangerous because of its ability to spread to other organs more rapidly if it is not treated at an early stage.
Only 20-30% of melanomas are found in existing moles.
While 70-80% arise on normal-looking skin.
Basal Cell Carcinoma: The Most Common Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma, which is also called basal cell skin cancer, is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 80 percent of all cases.
Rates of basal cell carcinoma have been increasing. Experts believe this is due to more sun exposure, longer lives, and better skin cancer detection methods.
This type of cancer begins in the skins basal cells, which are found in the outermost layer, the epidermis. They usually develop on areas that are exposed to the sun, like the face, head, and neck.
Basal cell carcinomas may look like:
- A flesh-colored, round growth
- A pinkish patch of skin
- A bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and then comes back
They typically grow slowly and dont spread to other areas of the body. But, if these cancers arent treated, they can expand deeper and penetrate into nerves and bones.
Though its rare, basal cell carcinoma can be life-threatening. Experts believe that about 2,000 people in the United States die each year from basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
Some risk factors that increase your chances of having a basal cell carcinoma include:
- Being exposed to the sun or indoor tanning
- Having a history of skin cancer
- Being over age 50
- Having chronic infections, skin inflammation, or a weakened immune system
- Being exposed to industrial compounds, radiation, coal tar, or arsenic
- Having an inherited disorder, such as nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum
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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.
Tips For Screening Moles For Cancer
Examine your skin on a regular basis. A common location for melanoma in men is on the back, and in women, the lower leg. But check your entire body for moles or suspicious spots once a month. Start at your head and work your way down. Check the “hidden” areas: between fingers and toes, the groin, soles of the feet, the backs of the knees. Check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you look at these areas. Be especially suspicious of a new mole. Take a photo of moles and date it to help you monitor them for change. Pay special attention to moles if you’re a teen, pregnant, or going through menopause, times when your hormones may be surging.
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Other Cancers On The Face
A few other rare skin cancers that might happen on the face:
- Lymphoma of the skin is an uncommon type of white blood cell cancer.
- Kaposi’s sarcoma is cancer caused by a herpes virus in immunosuppressed patients that causes skin lesions on the face. They look like painless purplish spots.
- Skin adnexal tumors is a rare cancer type that starts in hair follicles or skin glands.
- Sarcomas are tumors of the connective tissuesspecifically the fat, nerves, bone, skin, and muscles 80% of which occur in the face, head, or neck.
- Cutaneous leiomyosarcoma is an uncommon soft-tissue sarcoma that can happen on the face.
Infiltrative Basal Cell Carcinoma
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Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma occurs when a tumor makes its way into the dermis via thin strands between collagen fibers. This aggressive type of skin cancer is harder to diagnose and treat because of its location. Typically, infiltrative basal cell carcinoma appears as scar tissue or thickening of the skin and requires a biopsy to properly diagnose.
To remove this type of basal cell carcinoma, a specific form of surgery, called Mohs, is used. During a Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, thin layers of skin are removed until there is no cancer tissue left.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Superficial basal cell carcinoma, also known as in situ basal-cell carcinoma, tends to occur on the shoulders or the upper part of the torso, but it can also be found on the legs and arms. This type of cancer isnt generally invasive because it has a slow rate of growth and is fairly easy to spot and diagnose. It appears reddish or pinkish in color and may crust over or ooze. Superficial basal cell carcinoma accounts for roughly 15%-26% of all basal cell carcinoma cases.
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Skin Cancer Pictures By Type
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. There are several different types of skin cancer with Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Bowens Disease, Keratoacanthoma, Actinic Keratosis and Melanoma most commonly occurring.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and least dangerous whereas melanoma is the most dangerous type.
Below you will find skin cancer pictures of these six types, but remember that skin cancer should be diagnosed by a doctor. Comparing your skin lesion to skin cancer images found online cannot replace medical examination.
If you have any pigmented mole or non-pigmented mark on your skin that looks different from the other marks or moles on your skin, that is new or that has undergone change, is bleeding or wont heal, is itching or in any way just seems off, visit your doctor without delay dont lose time comparing your mole or mark with various pictures of skin cancer.
If you want to be proactive about your health, you may want to photograph areas of your skin routinely including individual moles or marks to familiarise yourself with the appearance of your skin . A skin monitoring app may be a useful tool to assist in that process.
How To Identify Age Spots
If youre 50 or older, youre likely to notice new age spots developing on your hands, face, and other areas of your skin that have received the most sun exposure. Solar lentigines is the medical term for these areas of skin discoloration that are commonly called age spots or liver spots.
Lentigines are sharply defined patches that are tan or light brown in color. Benign moles are typically brown to darker brown, and they may be flat or raised. Melanomas may be larger and darker than moles, explains Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Dr. Lipner says that lentigines may form due to a genetic disposition or as a result of sun exposure. Lentigines are not cancerous or dangerous, but people who have significant past sun exposure are more likely to have them, as well as an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
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What Types Of Skin Cancers Are Deadly
Skin cancers are some of the most complex and serious conditions treated by dermatologists, and the U.S. Dermatology Partners team takes our role in preventing and treating all types of skin cancers very seriously. While some forms of skin cancer are not typically life-threatening, without proper treatment, there are serious health risks associated with all forms of skin cancer. According to Dr. Jessica Dorsey of U.S. Dermatology Partners in Cedar Park, Texas, Most skin cancers are slow-growing and unlikely to spread to other parts of the body, but without treatment, just about any form of skin cancer has the potential to be destructive or even fatal. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of regular screenings to catch skin cancer in the earliest stages and prevent the severe repercussions of untreated skin cancers.
What Is The Outlook For People With Skin Cancer
Nearly all skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they have a chance to spread. The earlier skin cancer is found and removed, the better your chances for a full recovery. Ninety percent of those with basal cell skin cancer are cured. It is important to continue following up with a doctor to make sure the cancer does not return. If something seems wrong, call a doctor right away.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
Squamous cell skin cancer is mainly caused by cumulative ultraviolet exposure from the sun, according to Dr. Leffell.
Daily year-round exposure to the suns UV light and intense exposure in the summer months add to the damage that causes this type of cancer, he says. People at the highest risk for squamous cell skin cancer tend to have light or fair-colored skin blue, green or gray eyes a history of sun exposure and a tendency to sunburn quickly. Squamous cell cancers occur four times more frequently in men than in women.
Although squamous cell cancer can be more aggressive than basal cell cancer, the risk of this type of cancer spreading is lowas long as the cancer is treated early, Dr. Leffell says. He notes that the lesions must be treated with respect because they may grow rapidly and invade deeply. While it is more difficult to treat squamous cell cancer that has metastasized, up to half of cases can be cured.
In a small percentage of cases, squamous cell skin cancer can grow along the tiny nerves in the skin. In this very serious condition, the squamous cell cancer of the face or scalp can travel along the nerves and spread to the brain.
Cancer May Spread From Where It Began To Other Parts Of The Body
- Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
- Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if skin cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually skin cancer cells. The disease is metastatic skin cancer, not lung cancer.
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When Melanoma Can’t Be Cured
If your cancer has spread and it is not possible to cure it by surgery, your doctor may still recommend treatment. In this case, treatment may help to relieve symptoms, might make you feel better and may allow you to live longer.Whether or not you choose to have anti-cancer treatment, symptoms can still be controlled. For example, if you have pain, there are effective treatments for this. General practitioners, specialists and palliative care teams in hospitals all play important roles in helping people with cancer.
Start Your Care With A Fellowship
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when it comes to skin cancer treatment, youre better off beginning your care with a board-certified dermatologist. Choosing a dermatologist with fellowship training in skin oncology and dermatologic surgery is also important.
Sometimes people go right to a plastic surgeon when they have something on their face, Dr. Lee explains. But skin cancer can grow wider than anticipated, making complete removal tricky.
One way to ensure that you get the best cosmetic outcome is to seek out a dermatologist with experience in treating facial skin cancer. Dermatologists who have completed a dermatologic surgery fellowship tend to have the most experience with facial cancers, Dr. Lee says. Ask your dermatologist for a referral to a dermatologic surgeon or seek treatment at a medical center with dermatologic surgeons on staff.
Fellowship-trained dermatologic surgeons are experts in delicate skin-sparing procedures that can better preserve your appearance while also making sure that all of the cancer is removed. They are also skilled in reading pathology, Dr. Lee points out, which gives them an excellent understanding of how cancer grows so they can ensure that they are removing all of it.
And if you do need a plastic surgeon, a dermatologic surgeon will be able to advise you.
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Acne Especially Cystic Acne
Anyone with acne will tell you that stress is a common denominator for some of their worst breakouts. Even patients who manage their acne really well will often notice a serious breakout under stress. While these painful, unsightly breakouts may be an annoyance, breakouts of more severe forms of acne, like cystic acne, can seriously impact your skins health as well as your overall wellbeing.
The appearance and symptoms of acne will vary from person to person, but if you notice any of the following types of pimples suddenly cropping up more than usual, it may be time to consult with your dermatologist:
- Blackheads open clogged pore
- Pustules papules that have pus in their tips
- Cysts painful, pus-filled lumps
How Widespread Is Bcc
Basal cell carcinoma is quite common, and the number of reported cases in the U.S. has steadily increased.
- An estimated 3.6 million Americans are diagnosed with BCC each year.
- More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs.
- The diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers, including BCC and squamous cell carcinoma , increased up to 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.
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Ask About Your Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Among the most common treatments for facial skin cancer is Mohs surgery. Mohs involves removing the cancer in thin layers. This approach helps preserve surrounding healthy tissue and has a very high cure rate.
Mohs can be a lengthy process, taking several hours or longer, says Dr. Lee. I do everything I can to keep my patients comfortable and inform them of how things are going at each step.
Dr. Lee adds that not everyone with skin cancer on the face will need Mohs surgery. There may be other treatment options that are right for you. Its OK to ask. And if you do have options, ask your doctor to explain the pros and cons of each before you make your decision, she says.
Sometimes Mohs really is the best option for facial cancer, however. Thats typically the case with skin cancer on the nose or eyelid. The nose and the eyelid are tougher areas to treat for a variety of reasons, says Dr. Lee. It takes finesse to achieve excellent cosmetic results in these areas. Removing a cancer from the eyelid also has a lot of challenges related to how the eyelid functions and feels to the patient after the surgery.
What Does Bcc Look Like
BCCs can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, scars or growths with slightly elevated, rolled edges and/or a central indentation. At times, BCCs may ooze, crust, itch or bleed. The lesions commonly arise in sun-exposed areas of the body. In patients with darker skin, about half of BCCs are pigmented .
Its important to note that BCCs can look quite different from one person to another. For more images and information on BCC signs, symptoms and early detection strategies, visit our BCC Warning Signs page.
Please note: Since not all BCCs have the same appearance, these photos serve as a general reference to what they can look like. If you see something new, changing or unusual on your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist.
An open sore that does not heal
A shiny bump or nodule
A reddish patch or irritated area
A scar-like area that is flat white, yellow or waxy in color
A small pink growth with a slightly raised, rolled edge and a crusted indentation in the center
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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.
Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented
In most cases, skin cancer can be prevented. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid too much sunlight and sunburns. Ultraviolet rays from the sun damage the skin, and over time lead to skin cancer.
Here are ways to protect yourself from skin cancer:
- Seek shade. Dont spend long periods of time in direct sunlight.
- Wear hats with wide brims to protect your face and ears.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs.
- Use broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher that protect against burning and tanning rays. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outside.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Use a lip balm with sunscreen.
- Avoid the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Show any changing mole to your healthcare provider.
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