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What Are The Three Most Common Types Of Skin Cancer

After Squamous Cell Cancer Of The Skin Has Been Diagnosed Tests Are Done To Find Out If Cancer Cells Have Spread Within The Skin Or To Other Parts Of The Body

Types of Skin Cancer

The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the skin or to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.

Basal cell carcinoma of the skin rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Staging tests to check whether basal cell carcinoma of the skin has spread are usually not needed.

The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin:

What Is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a serious but common skin condition that causes skin cells to replicate in irregular ways or damages the structure of the cells themselves. While there are many different causes of skin cancer, exposure to the suns ultraviolet rays is the most common underlying cause of all forms of skin cancer. When damaged skin cells multiply, they form tumors. These growths can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are typically considered noncancerous or precancerous. Malignant tumors are more likely to impact surrounding cells or metastasize, which means they may spread to other parts of the body.

There are many different types of skin precancers and cancers. Skin precancers include actinic keratosis and dysplastic nevi . The four most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, melanoma skin cancers, and merkel cell skin cancers. Most skin cancers are either basal or squamous cell carcinomas. While melanomas and merkel cell skin cancers make up a small percentage of cases, they cause the greatest number of skin cancer-related deaths each year as these types are more likely to metastasize.

Signs of skin cancer can be more easily remembered by the mnemonic ABCDEF. This was developed initially for melanoma detection, but it can be applied to most skin cancers:

A asymmetry the shape isnt uniform throughout

D diameter is the spot greater than the size of a pencil eraser? Is the diameter growing?

Other Kinds Of Skin Cancer

The following skin cancers make up less than 1% of all skin cancers combined:

  • Kaposis sarcoma usually starts in the dermis but can form in organs. It is related to infection with herpesvirus and is more common in people with HIV/AIDS.

  • Merkel cell carcinoma develops from neuroendocrine cells in the skin. Merkel cell carcinoma is believed to be caused, in part, by exposure to the Merkel cell polyomavirus.

  • Skin starts in the lymphocytes of the skin. Lymphocytes are immune system cells found throughout the body.

  • Skin adnexal tumor starts in the hair follicles or glands of the skin.

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What Happens If Merkel Cell Carcinoma Is Left Untreated

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive and potentially fatal form of skin cancer. It typically affects people above the age of 50 and those who have weakened immune systems. In most cases, Merkel cell carcinoma begins as a skin-toned growth that may bleed easily. The bumps or nodules may also have blue, purple, or red coloring. Because the Merkle cells are near nerve endings, this form of cancer has numerous health risks, and if left untreated, Merkle cell cancer may spread to the brain, lungs, or bones, becoming fatal.

Where Do Skin Cancers Start

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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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Different Types Of Skin Cancer And Their Warning Signs

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common form of cancer in the United States. There are different types of skin cancer, and they each have different treatments and prognoses, so its important to understand the nuances and take steps to protect yourself and your skin.

Skin Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Skin

The skin is the bodys largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis and the dermis . Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: Cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to darken.

Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most common in skin that is often exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, and hands.

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What Does Skin Cancer Look Like

Basal cell carcinoma

  • BCC frequently develops in people who have fair skin. People who have skin of color also get this skin cancer.

  • BCCs often look like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.

  • BCCs usually develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.

  • BCCs are common on the head, neck, and arms however, they can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC are important. BCC can grow deep. Allowed to grow, it can penetrate the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin

  • People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC. This skin cancer also develops in people who have darker skin.

  • SCC often looks like 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.

  • SCC can grow deep into the skin, causing damage and disfigurement.

  • Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep and spreading to other areas of the body.

SCC can develop from a precancerous skin growth

  • People who get AKs usually have fair skin.

  • AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.

  • Because an AK can turn into a type of skin cancer, treatment is important.


Basal Cell Carcinoma: The Most Common Skin Cancer

Dr. Aton M. Holzer, MD – 3 Most Common Skin Cancers

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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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.

Prognosis For Skin Cancer

It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease. However, your doctor may give you the likely outcome of the disease. If detected early, most skin cancers are successfully treated.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers do not pose a serious risk to your health but a cancer diagnosis can be a shock. If you want to talk to someone see your doctor. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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Exams And Tests For Skin Cancer

If you think a mole or other skin lesion has turned into skin cancer, your primary care provider will probably refer you to a dermatologist. The dermatologist will examine any moles in question and, in many cases, the entire skin surface. Any lesions that are difficult to identify, or are thought to be skin cancer, may then be checked. Tests for skin cancer may include:

  • The doctor may use a handheld device called a dermatoscope to scan the lesion. Another handheld device, MelaFind, scans the lesion then a computer program evaluates images of the lesion to indicate if it’s cancerous.
  • A sample of skin will be taken so that the suspicious area of skin can be examined under a microscope.
  • A biopsy is done in the dermatologist’s office.

If a biopsy shows that you have malignant melanoma, you may undergo further testing to determine the extent of spread of the disease, if any. This may involve blood tests, a chest X-ray, and other tests as needed. This is only needed if the melanoma is of a certain size.


Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

Home Remedies for Skin Cancer

Crutchfield says, I tell my patients if you have a mole thats changing in any way, size, color, shape, elevationor it bleeds without provocation and does not heal within three weeksthese are all warning signs and should be checked. I also tell patients only 10 percent turn out to be skin cancer and 90 percent do not. Nevertheless, these are the things that you should be aware of.

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Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer

Surgical removal is the mainstay of skin cancer treatment for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For more information, see Surgery.People who cannot undergo surgery may be treated by external radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the use of a small beam of radiation targeted at the skin lesion. The radiation kills the abnormal cells and destroys the lesion. Radiation therapy can cause irritation or burning of the surrounding normal skin. It can also cause fatigue. These side effects are temporary. In addition, topical chemotherapy creams have been FDA approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers. Patients with advanced or many basal cell carcinomas are sometimes prescribed oral pills to block the growth of these cancers. Side effects include muscle spasms, hair loss, taste changes, weight loss and fatigue.

In advanced cases of melanoma, immune therapies, vaccines, or chemotherapy may be used. These treatments are typically offered as clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies of new therapies to see if they can be tolerated and work better than existing therapies.

What Are The Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Most BCCs develop on the head and neck.

Nodular basal cell carcinomas often appear as a pink, red, or translucent bump on the skin with tiny surface vessels. They may easily bleed or scab. In darker skinned patients they may be pigmented.

Superficial basal cell carcinomas are often seen on the chest and back as flat, scaly red-pink patches.

Less commonly BCCs may present as non-healing sores or ulcers, sometimes with a raised rolled edge. Least commonly they may present as a white or yellow waxy scar like area.

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What Is A Squamous Cell

One of three main types of cells in the top layer of the skin , squamous cells are flat cells located near the surface of the skin that shed continuously as new ones form.

A Squamous Cell Carcinoma occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation or other damaging agents trigger abnormal changes in the squamous cells.

Treatments Of Skin Cancer

These are the four main types of skin cancer

Regardless of which of the 3 types of skin cancer you have, there are a number of treatment options available. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best treatment for you will depend on a number of factors, including the size, depth, and location of the skin cancer. Sometimes a combination of treatments is recommended. With all types of skin cancer, early diagnosis and treatment is key to survival, so see your doctor about anything unusual going on with your skin.

Treatment options for skin cancer include:

If youve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you are probably very worried. Most types of skin cancer are very treatable, though. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options as well as your prognosis.

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Detecting Skin Cancer Early

The best way to prevent developing skin cancer is to familiarize yourself with your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you perform a self-examination once a month to look for signs of skin cancer.

Different types of skin cancer look different, so its important to learn what skin cancer can look like. Dr. Mikell and our team specialize in comprehensive skin exams, and were here to help you learn what you should look for in your skin self-exams.

The ABCDE method can help you recognize potential melanomas:

  • Asymmetry: Is one side different?
  • Border: Is the border irregular?
  • Color: Is it more than one color?
  • Diameter: Is it growing larger?
  • Evolution: Does it look different?

Along with self-exams, we recommend annual dermatology exams. Dr. Mikell performs head-to-toe checks, monitoring your existing moles and looking for anything new.

If he identifies an area of concern, he can order additional testing. There are many ways to treat skin cancer, and Dr. Mikell can work with you to choose the best treatment for your needs.

To have your skin examined and to learn how you can keep your skin healthy, book an appointment over the phone with Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry today.

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Most Common 3 Types Of Skin Cancer


Melanoma is the type of skin cancer we hear the most about. It can develop anywhere on the body. On men, its most often found on the face or trunk of the body. On women, its most often found on the legs. Melanoma can, and often does, occur on parts of the body that havent been exposed to the sun very much, although excessive exposure to the sun does increase your risk of melanoma. In people with dark skin, melanoma often appears on the hands and feet, sometimes under the fingernails or toenails.

Melanoma may develop on normal-looking skin or a mole may become cancerous. A cancerous mole may change shape or color or grow larger. It may also itch, hurt, or bleed. Melanoma may also appear as a discolored spot on the skin, often irregular in shape. It might look like a sore that is not healing normally.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma most commonly occurs on parts of the body that gets lots of exposure to the sun, like the face and neck. Sometimes it looks a lot like a scar, flat and flesh-colored or brownish in color. Other times it resembles a wart, a waxy-looking or pearly-looking bump.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually appears on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, although it can appear on other areas as well. It might look like a firm red bump or like a flat crusty or scaly lesion, similar to a scabbed-over sore.

Keep in mind the fact that there are more than 3 types of skin cancer. These are just the most common types.

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