Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomasigns And Symptoms
The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal. The cancer may start as a small, smooth, shiny, pale or waxy lump. It also may appear as a firm red lump. Sometimes, the lump bleeds or develops a crust.
Both basal and squamous cell cancers are found mainly on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun the head, face, neck, hands and arms. But skin cancer can occur anywhere.
An early warning sign of skin cancer is the development of an actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin lesion caused by chronic sun exposure. These lesions are typically pink or red in color and rough or scaly to the touch. They occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the face, scalp, ears, backs of hands or forearms.
Actinic keratoses may start as small, red, flat spots but grow larger and become scaly or thick, if untreated. Sometimes they’re easier to feel than to see. There may be multiple lesions next to each other.
Early treatment of actinic keratoses may prevent them from developing into cancer. These precancerous lesions affect more than 10 million Americans. People with one actinic keratosis usually develop more. Up to 1 percent of these lesions can develop into a squamous cell cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. In recent years, there has been an upturn in the diagnoses among young women and the rise is blamed on sunbathing and tanning salons.
- Raised, dull-red skin lesion
Curettage Electrodesiccation And Cryotherapy
Some dermatologists perform curettage, electrodesiccation, and cryotherapy to treat skin cancer. These are considered to be destructive techniques that are best suited for small, superficial carcinomas with definite borders. During the procedure, layers of skin cells are scraped away using a curette. Any remaining cancer cells are destroyed with the use of an electric needle.
In some cases, liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy is used to freeze the margins of the treatment area. Extremely low temperatures kill the malignant skin cells and create a wound, which will heal in a few weeks. The treatment may leave scars that are flat and round, similar to the size of the skin cancer lesion.
When To Seek Medical Attention
If you have signs of cellulitis, it is vital to seek medical attention. If you notice areas of swelling, redness, pain, or heat in your skin , seek medical care immediately.
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Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a viral skin infection. It causes red, fluid-filled blisters all over the body that are known for being hot and itchy. These blisters can ooze pus and caused secondary crusting.
Chickenpox is contagious from two days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over. It is possible to recognize chickenpox at home. However, you may want to seek medical advice to confirm the diagnosis.
There is a range of topical treatments that can help soothe chickenpox until the itching and pain subside.
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Cold sores are sores that present on the mouth, lip area. They can be red, painful, and cause fluid-filled blisters. There is often a tingling feeling before the sore arrives. Due to cold sores being caused by the herpes simplex virus , people with cold sores may also feel flu-like symptoms simultaneously.
Cold sores usually go away on their own without any treatment. However, there are over-the-counter topical treatments that can help speed up the process. If a cold sore is very severe or not healing, then a healthcare provider can prescribe antiviral medication.
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When To See A Dermatologist
Plan an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible if you notice any changes to your skin that worry you. Not all skin changes are evidence of cancer. Your dermatologist will evaluate your skin changes to identify the cause and prepare a plan of treatment. Remember, early detection of skin cancer is the key to proper treatment and survival. Almost all skin cancers respond favorably to treatment when detected early enough.
What Is The Follow
Most skin cancer is cured surgically in the dermatologist’s office. Of skin cancers that do recur, most do so within three years. Therefore, follow up with your dermatologist as recommended. Make an appointment immediately if you suspect a problem.
If you have a more deeply invasive or advanced malignant melanoma, your oncologist may want to see you every few months. These visits may include total body skin examinations, regional lymph node checks, and periodic chest X-rays. Over time, the intervals between follow-up appointments will increase. Eventually these checks may be done only once a year.
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The Ugly Duckling Method
The ugly duckling method works on the premise that a personâs moles tend to resemble one another. If one mole stands out in any way, it may indicate skin cancer.
Of course, not all moles and growths are cancerous. However, if a person notices any of the above characteristics, they should speak with a doctor.
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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What Is The Prognosis For Skin Cancer
Although the number of skin cancers in the United States continues to rise, more and more skin cancers are being caught earlier, when they are easier to treat. Thus, illness and death rates have decreased.
When treated properly, the cure rate for both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma approaches 95%. The remaining cancers recur at some point after treatment.
- Recurrences of these cancers are almost always local , but they often cause significant tissue destruction.
- Less than 1% of squamous cell carcinomas will eventually spread elsewhere in the body and turn into dangerous cancer.
In most cases, the outcome of malignant melanoma depends on the thickness of the tumor at the time of treatment.
- Thin lesions are almost always cured by simple surgery alone.
- Thicker tumors, which usually have been present for some time but have gone undetected, may spread to other organs. Surgery removes the tumor and any local spread, but it cannot remove distant metastasis. Other therapies, new targeted agents or older approaches such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, are used to treat the metastatic tumors.
- Malignant melanoma causes more than 75% of deaths from skin cancer.
- Of the approximately 70,000 malignant melanomas diagnosed in the United States in 2007, the vast majority were cured. Still, thousands of people die of melanoma each year.
Less Common Types Of Skin Cancer
This is a rare form of skin cancer that develops in the skins blood vessels and causes red or purple patches. It often attacks people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals with AIDS, or in people taking medications that suppress their immune system, such as patients whove received organ transplants.
Merkel cell carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma causes firm, shiny nodules that occur on the surface or just beneath the skin and in hair follicles. Merkel cell carcinoma most often appears on the head, neck and torso.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma
This rare but aggressive cancer develops in the skins oil glands. Sebaceous gland carcinomas which usually appear as hard, painless nodules can develop anywhere, but frequently occur on the eyelid, where they can be mistaken for other eyelid problems.
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Warning Signs Of Basal Cell Carcinoma That You Could Mistake As Harmless
Warning sign: A pink or reddish growth that dips in the centerCan be mistaken for: A skin injury or acne scar
A pink or reddish growth that dips in the center
The BCC on this patients cheek could be mistaken for a minor skin injury.
Warning sign: A growth or scaly patch of skin on or near the earCan be mistaken for: Scaly, dry skin, minor injury, or scar
A growth or scaly patch of skin on or near the ear
BCC often develops on or near an ear, and this one could be mistaken for a minor skin injury.
Warning sign: A sore that doesnât heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust overCan be mistaken for: Sore or pimple
A sore that doesnât heal, or heals and returns
This patient mistook the BCC on his nose for a non-healing pimple.
Warning sign: A scaly, slightly raised patch of irritated skin, which could be red, pink, or another colorCan be mistaken for: Dry, irritated skin, especially if itâs red or pink
A scaly, slightly raised patch of irritated skin
This BCC could be mistaken for a patch of dry, irritated skin.
Warning sign: A round growth that may be pink, red, brown, black, tan, or the same color as your skinCan be mistaken for: A mole, wart, or other harmless growth.
A round growth that may be same color as your skin
Would you recognize this as a skin cancer, or would you dismiss it as a harmless growth on your face?
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When To See A Doctor
If OTC products do not resolve acne, eczema, or psoriasis, a person should contact a doctor, who may prescribe medication in the forms of creams, lotions, or pills.
There are no OTC treatments for impetigo. Anyone who thinks that they or their child has the infection should speak to a doctor.
Ringworm on the scalp requires medical attention. Anyone who suspects that they have this should see a doctor, who can prescribe antifungal medication.
Anyone who notices new moles or changes in existing moles should contact a doctor, who may screen for skin cancer. The same is true for people who have actinic keratosis.
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Identifying Basal Cell Carcinomas And Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Before they become large, obvious cancers, “Basal cell carcinomas tend to be small, pink macules or papules small, flat areas or minimally bumpy areas on the skin that can at times look bright pink or occasionally are pearly white,” Dr. Paragh says.
One other sign of basal cell carcinomas is that they may frequently break open and can bleed or, at times, can be covered by a scab. Seemingly out of nowhere, a tiny open sore or wound may appear. The lesions may even look as if they healed at times, but the same spot will reopen and become a sore again.
“For basal cell carcinomas, people should look for small recurrent sores, areas that break open easily, areas that bleed easily, and pearly or pink bumps on the skin that continue to grow very slowly. Occasionally basal cell carcinomas may also show up as a small scar-like change on the skin in an area with no prior trauma, Dr. Paragh says. “As opposed to normal scars, these scar-like basal cell carcinomas will spontaneously grow, but very slowly.” Later “larger ulcerations with rolled borders, can also appear and show up as a more ominous sign of basal cell skin cancers.”
Invasive Squamous Cell Cancer Of The Vulva
Almost all women with invasive vulvar cancers will have symptoms. These can include:
- An area on the vulva that looks different from normal it could be lighter or darker than the normal skin around it, or look red or pink.
- A bump or lump, which could be red, pink, or white and could have a wart-like or raw surface or feel rough or thick
- Thickening of the skin of the vulva
- Bleeding or discharge not related to the normal menstrual period
- An open sore
Verrucous carcinoma, a subtype of invasive squamous cell vulvar cancer, looks like cauliflower-like growths similar to genital warts.
These symptoms are more often caused by other, non-cancerous conditions. Still, if you have these symptoms, you should have them checked by a doctor or nurse.
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When Is It Given
Electrochemotherapy may be used to treat skin metastases when other treatments havent worked or when surgery isnt suitable.
It can also be given alongside other treatments, or given to skin which has previously been treated with radiotherapy.
Electrochemotherapy may not be suitable for some people with certain lung conditions.
How Do People Find Signs Of Melanoma On Their Own Skin
Performing a skin self-exam as often as recommended by your dermatologist is the best way. While examining your skin, you want to look for the following:
Mole that is changing in any way
Spot that looks different from the rest of the spots on your skin
Growth or spot on your skin that itches, bleeds, or is painful
Band of color beneath or around a nail
Sore that doesnt heal or heals and returns
The ABCDEs of melanoma can help you find changes to a mole, freckle, or other spot on your skin.
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What Causes Skin Lesions
The most common cause of a skin lesion is an infection on or in the skin.
One example is a wart. The human papillomavirus , which causes warts, is passed from one person to another through direct skin-to-skin contact. The herpes simplex virus, which causes both cold sores and genital herpes, is also passed through direct contact.
A systemic infection, which is an infection that occurs throughout your body, can cause skin lesions all over your body. Examples include chickenpox and shingles. MRSA and cellulitis are two potentially life threatening infections that involve skin lesions.
Others can be the result of an allergic reaction, such as allergic eczema and contact dermatitis. Some conditions, such as poor circulation or diabetes, cause skin sensitivity that can lead to lesions.
Birthmarks are primary skin lesions, as are moles and acne. Other types include the following.
Each Type Of Skin Cancer Looks A Little Different
According to Dr. Wofford, Most people think of melanoma, which typically looks like a dark spot on the skin, but actually, there are many different types of skin cancer. Each type looks a little different, so in addition to understanding how to tell the difference between benign skin spots and cancerous lesions, it may be beneficial to learn a little more about the appearance of each type of skin cancer.
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Support For Living With Secondary Breast Cancer
Everyones experience of being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer is different, and people cope in their own way.
For many people, uncertainty can be the hardest part of living with secondary breast cancer.
You may find it helpful to talk to someone else whos had a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.
- Chat to other people living with secondary breast cancer on our online Forum.
- Meet other women with a secondary diagnosis and get information and support at a Living with Secondary Breast Cancer meet-up.
- Live Chat is a weekly private chat room where you can talk about whatevers on your mind.
You can also call Breast Cancer Nows Helpline free on 0808 800 6000.
Image credit: graphic adapted from: Sersa et al.Electrochemotherapy in treatment of tumours. European Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2008. 34: 232240. Adapted by permission under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license:creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0.
What Does Early Skin Cancer Look Like
It can be challenging to tell if a skin change is unimportant or, in fact, is a sign of developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is not uncommon, as one in five Americans will develop skin cancer before age 70. Learning to spot the warning signs is vital. When identified early, skin cancer is highly curable. Do you know what to look for or when to seek medical advice?
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How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed
Many people do not show symptoms of cancer in the skin unless their condition has advanced. However, through regular skin examinations, you can tell whats normal and whats not, so you can seek professional advice once you see any suspicious growth.
When seeking professional help, you can get a total body skin exam from a certified dermatologist. We will review your medical history and ask you about the suspicious growths in your skin. To see your skin structures clearly, we might use a dermatoscope and take photographs of your lesions or abnormal growths. If you have a high risk of skin cancer, regular screening can help you detect the appearance of cancers much sooner.
Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer
Surgical removal is the mainstay of therapy 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, a topical cream has recently been approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers.
In advanced cases, 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.
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