Skin cancer — the abnormal growth of skin cells — most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of the skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight.
There are three major types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinomas and most squamous cell carcinomas are slow growing and highly treatable, especially if found early. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It affects deeper layers of the skin and has the greatest potential to spread to other tissues in the body. Squamous cell carcinoma also can spread internally.
All three types of skin cancer are on the rise — but most skin cancers can be prevented by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and by paying attention to suspicious changes in your skin. If caught early enough, most skin cancers can be successfully treated.
Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day — the palms, spaces between the toes and the genital area. Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions.
A cancerous skin lesion can appear suddenly or develop slowly. Its appearance depends on the type of cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma
This is the most common skin cancer. It’s also the most easily treated and the least likely to spread. Basal cell carcinoma usually appears as one of the following:
- A pearly or waxy bump on your face, ears or neck
- A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion on your chest or back
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is easily treated if detected early, but it’s slightly more apt to spread than is basal cell carcinoma. Most often, squamous cell carcinoma appears as one of the following:
- A firm, red nodule on your face, lips, ears, neck, hands or arms
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface on your face, ears, neck, hands or arms
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and the one responsible for most skin cancer deaths. Melanoma can develop in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that turns malignant. Although it can occur anywhere on the body, melanoma appears most often on the upper back or face in both men and women.
Warning signs of melanoma include: Continue reading Skin cancer symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment