Skin cancer is, by far, the most common type of cancer: People of all skin types are prone to skin cancer, and one in five people will develop the disease at some point in their lives. The good news is that with early detection and treatment, most skin cancers are highly treatable. At Indigo Dermatology in Melbourne, FL, Tampa, FL & Palm Bay, FL, our dermatologists are skin cancer experts who provide comprehensive skin cancer screenings as well as the most advanced skin cancer treatments available. To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
Skin Cancer Specialist
Skin Cancer Q & A
What are the most common forms of skin cancer?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which are also commonly referred to as non-melanoma cancers, are the two most prevalent types of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, with more than four million new cases diagnosed in the United States annually. In fact, one out of every three new cancer diagnoses is skin cancer, and BCC accounts for the majority of those cases.
The deepest part of the outermost layer of skin, or epidermis, is made up of basal cells. Any abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion that arises from this layer is defined as a BCC.
Although BCC can appear anywhere on your body, it’s usually seen in areas that receive the most exposure to the sun, such as your face, neck, ears, scalp, backs of the hands, arms, and legs.
It can be caused by cumulative, lifetime exposure to ultraviolet light, or as the result of briefer instances of intense exposure. Tanning bed use can also cause BCCs.
Squamous cell carcinoma
More than one million Americans are diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) every year, making it the second most common form of skin cancer in the United States.
Squamous cells make up the uppermost part of the epidermis. When abnormal cells arise within that layer and begin to grow uncontrollably, they cause SCC.
SCC can appear on any part of your body that’s been exposed to the sun, but it’s most often found on the face, neck, ears, bald scalp, backs of the hands, and lower legs. It’s mainly caused by cumulative, lifetime exposure to ultraviolet light mostly from the sun.
Why is melanoma so dangerous?
Melanoma may not be the most common form of skin cancer, but it is the most worrisome: When it’s allowed to grow, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of your body.
Although melanoma often appears suddenly, it can also evolve from an existing mole. It’s caused by unrepaired DNA damage usually resulting from exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or a tanning bed.
This unrepaired damage can trigger mutations in your skin cells that lead them to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanoma can spread to your lymph nodes and your internal organs if left untreated, making it much more difficult to treat.
Fortunately, melanomas that are caught early are highly treatable.
How can I spot skin cancer?
Skin cancer signs vary. It may take the form of a changing mole or a mole that looks different from your other moles; or you may notice a dome-shaped growth, scaly patch, non-healing sore, or black streak underneath a nail.
If you notice a spot on your skin that differs from the others, has changed, itches, or bleeds, it’s imperative that you have it checked out by a board-certified dermatologist such as Dr. Thareja.
The ABCDEs of atypical moles are:
- Asymmetry: One half does not match the other
- Border: Irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border
- Color: Varied color, including shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue, within a single mole, spot, or lesion
- Diameter: Melanomas tend to be larger than the size of a pencil eraser
- Evolution: A mole or lesion that has changed in size, color, or shape