Skin Cancer

  • There are many types of skin cancers, but the ones most commonly seen are the following:

    - Basal cell skin cancers (most common)

    - Squamous cell skin cancer

    - Melanomas (least common but most deadly)
     

  • Many skin cancers are known to be induced by UV light.  This is the most important reason that we recommend sun protection.  

  • Some skin cancers arise in areas not seen by light!  

Melanoma
 

  • Melanoma can be deadly. 

  • Melanoma is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body if it is not caught early. 

  • Fortunately, there are now newer treatments for melanoma which have finally shown some hope!  

  • Melanomas tend to be very dark in color, black, grey or blue, but they can actually be skin colored, red, pink, even have yellow tones, etc.  

  • Pay close attention for changing moles or new spots that bleed easily or won’t heal. 

  • Risk factors for melanoma include family history, intense sun burns, multiple moles and many others. 

  • If you have a mole that is changing, see a health care provider!  

  • Look for dark or easily bleeding spots under the nails!  Remember to check your feet and hands! 

  • Remember the ABCDE’s of melanoma

  • Asymmetry (does one side look like the other?)

  • Border (is it irregular?)

  • Color (is it multicolored?)

  • Diameter (how big is it? Bigger than a pencil eraser, show it to a doctor)

  • Evolution (did your mole always look one way, and then change?)

Basal cell skin cancers

  • Fortunately, most of the time these skin cancers do not metastasize or spread to other parts of the body.

  • They will continue to grow if they are left untreated.

  • Sometimes when growing they cause skin breakdown called “ulcers”. 

  • When they start, they leave some signs.  Look for the following:

  • A spot that looks like a pimple that won’t go away

  • A bright pink dry scaly patch that sometimes bleeds

  • Bleeding with baths or face washing 

  • Basal cell skin cancers are often treated by surgical destruction or excision, sometimes with stitches, and if they are thin, sometimes with a cream.

  • There are some families who will develop hundreds of these skin cancers in their lifetime. 

Squamous cell skin cancer

  • Unfortunately, this type of skin cancer can metastasize or spread to other areas of the body where they can be deadly.

  • High risk sites include the lip and the ear, among others. 

  • Some people are at higher risk for these skin cancers including the following:

  • People with organ transplants on immune suppressive medications

  • Certain medications like voriconazole (an antifungal medication)

  • Squamous cell skin cancers often look like a small marble on the skin with a central crater or dry scaly patches that bleed.

  • They often show up on the lower legs in women. 

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