What Causes Skin Cancer
Most cases of skin cancer are thought to be caused by excess exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun, which can damage the skin and lead to DNA mutations in skin cells.
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing skin cancer. These factors include:
- Spending a lot of time in the sun
- Having fair skin that burns easily
- Having a history of sunburns, especially blistering sunburns
- Living in a sunny or high-altitude climate
- Having lots of moles or any abnormal moles
- Having precancerous skin growths that feel rough and scaly
- Having a personal or family history of skin cancer
- Having a weakened immune system
- Past exposure to radiation
- Past exposure to toxic substances, such as arsenic
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 doesn’t heal and may bleed, ooze, or crust overCan be mistaken for: Sore or pimple
A sore that doesn’t 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 it’s 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?
When Is A Mole A Problem
If a new or existing mole begins to change shape, color, size, or becomes flaky, crusty, or begins to bleed, it’s time to make an appointment with your dermatologist to get it checked out. A mole can turn into melanoma on rare occasions. In early melanoma, the shape of a mole becomes asymmetrical and uneven.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Nodular basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that is most often found on the head. This type of cancer starts in basal cells, which are tasked with making new skin cells to push the old ones toward the surface of the skin. Nodular basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 60%-80% of all basal cell carcinomas. In the United States, its estimated that 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed every year, with 2.5 to 3.4 million of those cases being nodular basal cell carcinoma.
This type of cancer appears as a pearl-like papule that is round and surrounded by threadlike red lines on the skin made up of tiny blood vessels. The risk of developing nodular basal cell carcinoma can be increased by spending a lot of time out in the sun, living in high-altitude and sunny locations, and radiation therapy.
Other risk factors include:
- Prolonged exposure to arsenic
- Certain rare genetic disorders such as basal cell nevus syndrome
Although this type of cancer is common, it is highly treatable, and the five-year relative survival rate is 100%.
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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.
Treatment Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Removal of the tumor
Doctors may remove the cancer in the office by scraping and burning it with an electric needle or by cutting it out. Doctors may destroy the cancer by using extreme cold .
After removing all of the cancer, doctors decide how best to replace the skin that has been cut away. They may bring the edges of the remaining skin together with sutures or use a skin graft Skin Tissue transplantation is the removal of various tissues, such as skin cells, corneas, cartilage, or bone, from a body and then inserting that tissue into the same or another person who has… read more or skin flap. Or they may place dressings on top of the wound and let the skin heal on its own.
Mohs surgery reduces recurrence rates for skin cancers. This surgery is useful for basal cell and squamous cell cancers but is less often used for melanoma.
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Learning I Had Basal Cell Carcinoma
My journey with skin cancer started last year when I first noticed a little tiny scab under my eye that just sort of popped up out of nowhere. At first I thought I had scratched my eye and didnt think much more about it. Eventually the scab went away and I didnt think anymore about it until it appeared again a couple of months later. At first glance you wouldnt have thought it was anything but something inside me keep nagging me to go get it looked at, and I am so glad I did.
So today I am meeting with a plastic surgeon who will evaluate the cancer and decide how to remove it. My dermatologist thought that since the lesion is located directly under my eye it would be best to see someone who can hopefully cause minimal scarring or disfigurement. You see BCC isnt normally deadly but it can be very disfiguring if left untreated, just google Basal Cell Carcinoma and you will see what I am talking about.
I seriously never thought that I would be someone who would get skin cancer. I almost never burn and just dont have the risk factors. However I can tell you now that every time I am out in the sun I look like a ghost from the amount of sunscreen I apply to my face and body. I dont care what I look like or how white I am, this experience has been enough to make me a believer.
Bottom Line: Wear Sunscreen, every time you are out in the sun! Put sunscreen on your kids every time you are out in the sun. Even if the sun isnt out you can still get a sunburn so put it on.
Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Squamous cell skin cancers can vary in how they look. They usually occur on areas of skin exposed to the sun like the scalp or ear.
Thanks to Dr Charlotte Proby for her permission and the photography.
You should see your doctor if you have:
- a spot or sore that doesn’t heal within 4 weeks
- a spot or sore that hurts, is itchy, crusty, scabs over, or bleeds for more than 4 weeks
- areas where the skin has broken down and doesn’t heal within 4 weeks, and you can’t think of a reason for this change
Your doctor can decide whether you need any tests.
Cancer and its management J Tobias and D HochhauserBlackwell, 2015
Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA RosenbergWolters Kluwer, 2018
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Exam By A Health Care Professional
Some doctors and other health care professionals do skin exams as part of routine health check-ups.
Having regular skin exams is especially important for people who are at high risk of skin cancer, such as people with a weakened immune system or people with conditions such as basal cell nevus syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum . Talk to your doctor about how often you should have your skin examined.
What Are Treatments For Skin Cancer
Skin cancer can be treated in one of several ways based on factors such as the cancer type and severity, and the location of the skin growth.
Freezing and surgery are some common skin cancer treatments. Freezing is ideal for small, early-stage skin cancers and destroys the affected tissue, after which it is sloughed off. Surgery involves removing the cancerous tissue and can be performed on any type of skin cancer.
Other skin cancer treatments include:
- Curettage and electrodessication, in which a doctor scrapes away the cancerous cells using a circular blade called a curette, then uses an electric needle to destroy remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy, which uses high-powered energy beams to destroy cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy, which uses medications to treat cancer in the top layers of skin or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body .
- Targeted therapy, which involves the use of medications that target specific proteins in cancer cells that cause them to grow and spread.
The most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, can usually be treated in office, either with large section or electrodessication. MOHS surgeries are popular for any type of cancer on the face because it gives you the least amount of scarring. More concerning cancers like melanoma, may also require some follow-up treatment such as chemo and radiation, based on spread or how large the area is.
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Skin Cancer Pictures: What Does Skin Cancer Look Like
Skin cancer images by skin cancer type. Skin cancer can look different than the photos below.
Skin cancer often presents itself as a change in the skins appearance. This could be the appearance of a new mole or other mark on the skin or a change in an existing mole.
Please remember that you should always seek advice from your doctor if you have any concern about your skin. Skin cancers often look different from skin cancer images found online.
Radiation And Immunologic Origins
Radiation has proven to be tumorigenic by two mechanisms. The first entails the initiations of prolonged cellular proliferation, thereby increasing the likelihood of transcription errors that can lead to cellular transformation. The second mechanism is direct damage of DNA replication, leading to cellular mutation that may activate proto-oncogenes or deactivate tumor suppressor genes.
Immunologically, the mechanism by which prolonged ultraviolet radiation exposure leads to the development of BCC includes suppression of the cutaneous immune system and immunologic unresponsiveness to cutaneous tumors. This local effect includes a decrease in Langerhans cells, dendritic epidermal T cells, and Thy1+ cells. Furthermore, systemic proliferation of suppressor T cells and the release of immunosuppressive factors are believed to be pathogenic to the development of BCC.
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What Is Ear Cancer
Ear cancer is cancer which develops in the ear, the ear canal or middle ear and inner ear. Ear cancer is a rare cancer. Most of the cancers of the ear develop in the skin of the outer ear. Around 5 of 100 skin cancers occur on the ear. It is very rare for cancer to develop inside the ear. Majority of the ear cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. There are other types of ear cancers, which include basal cell cancer, adenoid cystic, melanoma and adenocarcinoma.
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How Your Doctor Decides On Treatment
The treatment you have depends on:
- where in the ear the cancer is
- the type of cancer you have
- the size of the tumour
- whether its spread beyond the area it started in
- your general health
This page is about treatment for cancer that starts in the skin flap of your outer ear. Although the ear canal is part of the outer ear, its treatment is different.
You can read about treatment for cancer that starts in the ear canal on the pages about cancer of the ear canal, middle ear and inner ear.
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More Pictures Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
While the above pictures show you some common ways that BCC can appear on the skin, this skin cancer can show up in other ways, as the following pictures illustrate.
Scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center
On the trunk, BCC may look like a scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center and a slightly raised border, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can be lighter in some areas and darker in others
While BCC tends to be one color, it can be lighter in some areas and darker in others, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can be brown in color
Most BCCs are red or pink however, this skin cancer can be brown, as shown here.
Basal cell carcinoma can look like a group of shiny bumps
BCC can look like a group of small, shiny bumps that feel smooth to the touch.
Basal cell carcinoma can look like a wart or a sore
The BCC on this patients lower eyelid looks like a wart* in one area and a sore** in another area.
If you see a spot or growth on your skin that looks like any of the above or one that is growing or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures
Below are basal cell carcinoma pictures of typical lesions on various sites of the body. These photos and images of basal cell carcinomas are not exhaustive but are examples of common lesions.
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Face:
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Nose:
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Scalp:
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Ear:
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Eyelid:
Basal Cell Carcinoma on Trunk:
Images in this article were sourced from DermNet NZ, Waikato District Health Board, Raimo Suhonen and Dr Richard Ashton.
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Basal Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, accounting for 8 out of 10 cases. This cancer begins in the basal cells of the epidermis , an area that produces new cells as old ones die off. Basal cell carcinoma typically develops in sun-exposed areas of the body and grows very slowly, rarely spreading beyond the skin.
As it develops, basal cell carcinoma can cause several significant symptoms. However, basal cell carcinomas typically dont hurt, and patients rarely feel anything out of the ordinary. Instead, the warning signs are primarily visual. If left untreated, though, the lesions can begin to itch, bleed or cause pain they can also become locally invasive, affecting the skin as well as the underlying tissues and bones. Early detection and prompt treatment are key to a successful outcome.
When Should I See My Doctor
If you have had one BCC, you have a 50% chance of developing another one, so it is important to check your skin regularly.
Most people find BCCs by checking their own skin and looking for changes. See a doctor if you find:
- a spot that is different from other spots on your skin
- a spot that has changed size, shape, colour or texture
- a sore that doesnt heal
- a sore that is itchy or bleeds
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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.
Can Basal Cell Carcinomas Be Cured
Yes, BCCs can be cured in almost every case, although treatment can be more complicated if the BCC has been neglected for a long time, or if it occurs in an awkward place, such as close to the eye or on the nose or ear.
BCCs rarely spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, although it is a type of skin cancer it is almost never a danger to life.
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What Does Skin Cancer Look Like
Cancer. Saying that word sounds really scary coming out of my mouth but its my reality. I Have Cancer. However, dont start planning my funeral anytime soon first let me explain what type of cancer that I have. Im not terminal and I dont plan on kicking the bucket anytime soon. My cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer out there. But many people want to know what does skin cancer look like.
I have Basal Cell Carcinoma which is a form of skin cancer. BCC affects nearly 3 out of every 10 caucasions that are in the Now dont get me wrong its a scary thing for your doctor, or in my case the nurse, to call you and tell you that you have skin cancer. In fact when I first heard those words I cried for a good 30 minutes thinking about all those times I just had to go to the tanning bed so that I would be nice and dark for the prom. Or the times my sister and I would lay out on the deck in the middle of summer lathered in baby oil. Looking back I could smack that 14 year old girl upside her head but you cant take back the mistakes you have made in the past you can only move forward.