Here’s a startling fact: Skin cancer is the most prevalent kind of cancer, with more than one million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Of these cases, a majority fall into one of the three types of skin cancers: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.
But first, what is “skin cancer”? All skin cancers are abnormal growths of skin cells, which occur when regular, healthy cells experience changes and start to multiply without normal controls. As the cells increase in numbers, they form what we call tumors. Cancerous tumors are malignant, which means they pose a threat to your health.
Before we delve into what makes each of these skin cancers distinct, let’s look at the major differences. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas are the most frequently diagnosed varieties of skin cancer. Melanoma is more rare and also more aggressive than non-melanoma cancers. Melanoma can spread over other parts of the body and is sometimes fatal when not treated early enough. Non-melanoma cancers (Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas), however, aren’t as likely to spread to other parts of the body. All three skin cancers have the potential to be painful and disfiguring if not treated early enough though.
Learn more about the three types of skin cancers, their appearances and their effects, so you have a better chance of recognizing them and consulting your dermatologist.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed type of skin cancer. It can appear on people of all skin tones, but it is most common among fair-skinned people. It often initially appears as a pearl-like, pinkish or flesh colored bump. Basal Cell Carcinomas can be found anywhere on the body, but most commonly appear on areas of the skin that are commonly exposed to the sun like the hands, arms, legs and neck.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Meanwhile, Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. This cancer also most commonly affects people with fair skin and occurs in the upper layers of the epidermis or the skin’s upper layers. It generally appears as a red, scaly patch or like a sore that heals and re-opens. Squamous Cell Carcinomas most often forms on skin that is frequently exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, including the rim of the ear, arms, face, neck, chest, shoulders and back.
Melanoma is an aggressive and sometimes fatal form of skin cancer. It frequently develops as a mole or as a new dark spot on the skin. Being aware of the ABCDEs of skin cancer can help you catch Melanomas and other skin cancers before they progress. Early diagnosis is imperative to successful treatment of melanoma.
You can be proactive in the fight against skin cancer by making sure you get an annual skin screening from your dermatologist. This visual inspection gives your doctor a chance to get to know your skin and an opportunity to identify any skin cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages. Don’t wait! Call and make your appointment today (865)474-8800.