Skin Cancer Symptoms Often Begin With Actinic Keratosis
Lesions are abnormal changes in tissues, such as a break or wound on the skin. Lesions from actinic keratosis are referred to as precancerous because they can turn into malignant tumors. Forty to 60 percent of all SCCs begin as actinic keratosis, and recent evidence suggests the two are genetically linked.
Actinic keratosis is likely to be caused by cumulative exposure to the suns rays. Its characteristics are as follows:
- It occurs most often in sun-sensitive, light-skinned, light- or red-haired individuals with blue or green eyes.
- It;develops in areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, back of the hands, ears, neck, and forearms.
- It is often characterized by a rough or crusty dry skin lesion that is limited to a small areausually between one-eighth and one-quarter-inch.
- They may be gray, pink, red, or the same color as the skin, and may itch or cause a pricking or tender;sensation.
Diagnosis of skin cancer symptoms may be as simple as an inspection by a dermatologist, but a biopsy may be necessary to determine if potentially cancerous changes are present.
Leaving Basal Cell Carcinoma Untreated
Basal cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer, but this doesnt mean it can be ignored. This is the least dangerous form of skin cancer and rarely spreads to other internal parts of the body. While death is a rare consequence there is the potential for disfigurement. Over time basal cell carcinoma can expand and cause ulcers and damage the skin and tissues.
Any damage could be permanent and have an impact on the way you look. Depending on how long the basal cell carcinoma has been present, radiotherapy may be required. This is the most common form of skin cancer and is often found on the face. You may notice a small lump which is shiny or pearl like and this is a sign you should get checked. This type of cancer generally does not cause any pain.
Visit Us Dermatology Partners
Whether youre worried a spot youve noticed is cancerous or youre just ready for your annual professional skin exam, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team would love to hear from you. You can get started scheduling your visit by completing our online request form. Once we receive your scheduling request, one of our local team members will be in touch to finalize the details of your office visit.
Find a location near me
Sign Up for Our Newsletter!
Get the latest updates on news, specials and skin care information.
Don’t Miss: Can Skin Cancer Be Cured With Cream
Different Kinds Of Skin Cancer
There are many types of skin cancer. Some are very rare. Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have.
The two most common kinds of skin cancers are:
- Basal cell cancer, which starts in the lowest layer of the skin
- Squamous cell cancer, which starts in the top layer of the skin
Another kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. These cancers start from the color-making cells of the skin . You can read about melanoma in If You Have Melanoma Skin Cancer.
Survival Statistics For Non
Most cancer registries do not collect information about non-melanoma skin cancers. These cancers are difficult to keep track of. The information often doesnt get reported because non-melanoma skin cancer is usually diagnosed and treated easily in a doctors office.
In Canada, a few provinces do collect information on new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer. Canadian statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer, including survival statistics, are based on the information gathered by these provinces.
Survival statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer are general estimates and must be interpreted carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, they cannot be used to predict a particular persons chances of survival.
There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer and what they mean to you.
Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Skin Cancer And Melanoma
Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Increase Risk For Other Cancers
People who develop abnormally frequent cases of a skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma appear to be at significantly increased risk for developing of other cancers, including blood, breast, colon and prostate cancers, according to a preliminary study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
How Can You Tell If A Spot Is Cancerous
How to Spot Skin Cancer
Recommended Reading: Is Melanoma Skin Cancer Hereditary
Is Basal Cell Carcinoma Considered Malignant
The vast majority of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. While malignant, these are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body if treated early. They may be locally disfiguring if not treated early. A small but significant number of skin cancers are malignant melanomas.
Stages Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer starts on the surface of the skin, called the epidermis. Initially, it is the uncontrolled growth of skin cells, causing an abnormal growth. As it develops, skin cancer can move beyond the initial site and spread to surrounding skin and tissue, bones and other organs. Doctors rate the progression of skin cancer by various stages, from 0-4. The higher the number, the greater the spread of the cancer, with a Stage 4 cancer having spread to distant organs. If treated in early stages, there is a higher likelihood of completely removing the entire cancer, and the cancer has a much lesser likelihood of recurring. When left untreated until later stages, it becomes much harder to rid the body of the cancer and prevent illness and death.
Read Also: How Fast Does Subungual Melanoma Grow
Why Not To Leave Skin Cancer Untreated
Skin cancer has two sides. On the one hand, it is fairly easy to detect and treat when done so at an early stage. On the other hand, when left untreated, skin cancer can cause disfigurement and even death. This is the dark side of skin cancer. Find out the sobering consequences of allowing skin cancer to develop into later stages.
Questions To Ask The Doctor
- Do you know the stage of the cancer?
- If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
- Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
- What will happen next?
There are many ways to treat skin cancer. The main types of treatment are:
Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured with surgery or other types of treatments that affect only the spot on the skin.
The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:
- The stage and grade of the cancer
- The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
- Your age and overall health
- Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it
Also Check: What Are The Early Stages Of Melanoma
Risk Of Further Melanomas
Most people treated for early melanoma do not have further trouble with the disease. However, when there is a chance that the melanoma may have spread to other parts of your body, you will need regular check-ups.;Your doctor will decide how often you will need check-ups everyone is different. They will become less frequent if you have no further problems.;After treatment for melanoma it is important to limit exposure to the sun’s UV radiation.;As biological family members usually share similar traits, your family members may also have an increased risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. They can reduce their risk by spending less time in the sun and using a combination of sun protection measures during sun protection times.;It is important to monitor your skin regularly and if you notice any changes in your skin, or enlarged lymph glands near to where you had the cancer, see your specialist as soon as possible.;
Recurrence Of Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal cell skin cancer is the most common type. It’s also the most treatable. Almost all basal cell cancers can be cured. If a basal cell cancer recurs, it usually happens within five years. If you have a basal cell cancer removed, you will probably need to see your doctor once every 6 to 12 months to check for recurrence.;
It’s rare for basal cell cancer to return. One study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, followed almost 500 people with basal or squamous cell skin cancer for about seven years after treatment. They found that the recurrence rate of these skin cancers was just 3.5%. According to the National Cancer Institute, 85 to 95% of basal cell skin cancers do not come back after treatment.
If basal cell cancer does return, doctors often recommend to treat it. The procedure involves removing all of the skin cancer and using a microscope to make sure there are no cancer cells left in any tissue on the edge of where the was.;
Recommended Reading: What Are The Types Of Skin Cancer
How Do You Prevent Basal Cell Skin Cancer
The best way to prevent basal cell carcinoma and other skin cancers is to protect the skin from the sun.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, and reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid the midday sun, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sunâs rays are the strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Examine your skin regularly for new moles, spots, bumps, or growths, and inform your doctor of any skin changes.
In patients who are at higher risk for recurrence of basal cell carcinoma, certain medications may be used, however, studies on the effectiveness of these medications have had mixed results.
- Celecoxib , a type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug , may offer modest risk reduction, but studies on its effectiveness for preventing tumors are mixed.
- Oral nicotinamide is a vitamin supplement available over the counter. Additional studies are needed to determine its effectiveness in preventing skin cancers. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements because of possible side effects or drug interactions.
- Topical fluorouracil has been shown to help prevent other skin conditions and precursors to basal cell carcinoma, however, the data are mixed on whether it may help prevent BCC.
Actinic Keratosis Signs And Symptoms
Many people have actinic keratosis , also called solar keratosis, on their skin. It shows that youÃ¢ve had enough sun to develop skin cancer, and it is considered a precursor of cancer, or a precancerous condition.
Usually AK shows up on the parts of your body that have received the most lifetime sun exposure, like the face, ears, scalp, neck, backs of the hands, forearms, shoulders and lips.
Some of the same treatments used for nonmelanoma skin cancers are used for AK to ensure it does not develop into a cancerous lesion.
This abnormality develops slowly. The lesions are usually small, about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch in size. You may see a few at a time. They can disappear and later return.
- AK is a scaly or crusty bump on the skinÃ¢s surface and is usually dry and rough. It can be flat. An actinic keratosis is often noticed more by touch than sight.
- It may be the same color as your skin, or it may be light, dark, tan, pink, red or a combination of colors.
- It can itch or produce a prickling or tender sensation.
- These skin abnormalities can become inflamed and be encircled with redness. Rarely, they bleed.
Dont Miss: How Aggressive Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma
You May Like: Can You See Skin Cancer
What About Other Treatments That I Hear About
When you have cancer you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these are known to help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.
How Your Skin Works
Your skin works as a barrier to protect your body against things like water loss, bacteria, and other harmful contaminants. The skin has two basic layers: a deeper, thicker layer and an outer layer . The epidermis contains three main types of cells. The outermost layer is composed of squamous cells, which are constantly shedding and turning over. The deeper layer is called the basal layer and is made of basal cells. Lastly, melanocytes are cells that make melanin, or the pigment that determines your skin color. These cells produce more melanin when you have more sun exposure, causing a tan. This is a protective mechanism by your body, and its actually a signal that you are getting sun damage.
The epidermis is in constant contact with the environment. While it sheds skin cells regularly, it can still sustain damage from the sun, infection, or cuts and scrapes. The skin cells that remain are constantly multiplying to replace the sloughed skin, and they can sometimes begin to replicate or multiply excessively, creating a skin tumor that may either be benign or skin cancer.
Here are some common types of skin masses:
Read Also: Can Melanoma Be Treated Successfully
What Are The Risk Factors For Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are all skin cancers caused by exposure to damaging ultraviolet raysfrom natural and artificial sunlight. Theres also a genetic condition called basal cell nevus or Gorlin syndrome, which can cause people to develop hundreds of basal cell skin cancers, but its extremely rare, says Dr. Christensen.
People at the highest risk for basal cell carcinoma tend to have fair or light-colored skin, a history of sun exposure and a tendency to sunburn quickly. Fair-skinned people have a 50 percent risk of developing basal skin cancer at some point in their lives, Dr. Christensen says. The cancer is the result of cumulative damage of years spent in the sun, and may take 20 years to manifest.
Although its often more common in older people, it can occur in younger adults, too.
Basal cell carcinoma spreads very slowly and very rarely will metastasize, Dr. Christensen says. But if its not treated, basal cell carcinoma can continue to grow deeper under the skin and cause significant destruction to surrounding tissues. It can even become fatal. For example, an untreated basal cell carcinoma on the face can grow into the bones and, over time, directly into the brain, Dr. Christensen says.
What Kills Skin Cancer Cells
Cryotherapy is used most often for pre-cancerous conditions such as actinic keratosis and for small basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For this treatment, the doctor applies liquid nitrogen to the tumor to freeze and kill the cells. This is often repeated a couple of times in the same office visit.
Also Check: How Does Skin Cancer Feel
Is Bcc A Completely Curable Disease How
You might not have heard of Basal Cell Carcinoma before, but it is actually the most common form of skin cancer in the UK. About 80% of the people who are diagnosed with skin cancer every year have a BCC. If you are diagnosed with one then you will want to know more about this condition and whether it can be cured.
An Overview Of Skin Cancer
There are three main types of cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Of the three types, melanoma is the deadliest because of its ability to aggressively spread quickly to other parts of your body. ;;
Because of this, we further divide skin cancer into 2 main categories:; melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer ;
Of the non-melanoma skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma is the least likely to spread.; Squamous cell carcinoma can spread, but it is uncommon in skin cancer, unless it is ignored for a long time or happens to be an aggressive variant.
Read Also: What Is Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma
How Serious Is My Cancer
If you have skin cancer, the doctor will want to find out how far it has spread. This is called staging.
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers don’t spread as often as some other types of cancer, so the exact stage might not be too important. Still, your doctor might want to find out the stage of your cancer to help decide what type of treatment is best for you.
The stage describes the growth or spread of the cancer through the skin. It also tells if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body that are close by or farther away.
Your cancer can be stage 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The lower the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, like stage 4, means a more serious cancer that has spread beyond the skin. Be sure to ask the doctor about the cancer stage and what it means for you.
Other things can also help you and your doctor decide how to treat your cancer, such as:
- Where the cancer is on your body
- How fast the cancer has been growing
- If the cancer is causing symptoms, such as being painful or itchy
- If the cancer is in a place that was already treated with radiation
- If you have a weakened immune system