- Posted by jdavis on August 31, 2011
Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90% of all skin cancers. It appears as a small, pink bump or patch. It is a slow growing cancer that is usually is found on the head or neck but may be found on other parts of the body. If left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can spread and invade bone and other tissues under the skin. It may also ulcerate, bleed or crust over.
Squamous cell carcinoma is much less common than basal cell carcinoma. It can be more aggressive that basal cell carcinoma and is also more likely to grow deep below the skin and spread to distant parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma can look like basal cell carcinoma, but it is usually more scaly and rough. This type of cancer is often found on the head and neck, but it also has a tendency to grow on the ears, lips, and the backs of the arms and hands. It can also develop in areas of skin that have scars or ulcers.
When squamous or basal cell skin cancers are found early, there is nearly a 100% chance for cure.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin cancer.
Actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, is a precancerous condition that has the potential for developing into squamous cell carcinoma. It appears as rough red or brown, scaly patches on the skin. They are often more easily felt than seen. Like skin cancer, actinic keratosis is usually found on sun-exposed areas of the body, but it can be found on other parts of the body as well.
Melanoma begins in melanocytes, cells that make the melanin that gives skin its pigment or color. Sometimes these cells change, either spontaneously or when damaged by sun exposure. With time, this damage can result in melanoma.
Melanoma is less common than basal or squamous cell skin cancers, but it is more dangerous than either and can be deadly. If caught early, there is nearly a 97% chance for cure. Melanoma usually appears as a pigmented growth on the skin. In rare cases, melanomas are skin-colored and not pigmented. Melanomas can appear as flat or raised growths.
Less common types of melanoma may occur in the eyes and mouth. If you notice any discoloration or changes in vision, seek out an ophthalmologist. If you notice any new growths or non-healing sores in the mouth, see your dentist or primary care physician.
Symptoms vary from person to person and may include:
- a change on the skin, such as a new spot or one that changes in size, shape, or color
- a sore that doesn’t heal
- a spot or sore that changes in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain
- a small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lump
- a firm red lump that may bleed or develops a crust
- a flat, red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly
Follow the ABCDEs for early skin cancer detection during your monthly skin exams:
- Asymmetry of lesion
- Border irregularity
- Color variegation
- Diameter greater than 6 millimeters
- Elevation: is the lesion growing in height?
You can have these symptoms without having cancer, but if you notice one or more of them for more than two weeks, see your doctor.