Skin cancer is the world’s most common type of cancer. There are a variety of treatments for it, and the doctor will recommend one based on the cancer’s type, severity, and location. The good news is that skin cancer can usually be treated, especially if you catch it early. You should thus know the more common types of skin cancer and their signs.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, and it develops in the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). While it can develop anywhere on the body, it is most likely to appear in places that get a lot of exposure to the sun, like the face, scalp, or shoulders.
A basal cell carcinoma can take on several forms. It can be a sore that won’t heal, or it can be a patch of reddish or irritated skin. It can be a shiny bump that looks like a normal mole or is white, red, pink, pearly, or clear. A BCC may also be a small pink growth with an indented middle and raised edge. An invasive BCC may cause a scar-like patch with shiny and taut skin that may appear waxy, yellow, or white.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer, and it also originates in the epidermis. It often develops somewhere that gets a lot of sun exposure, but it can also develop in sores, scars, or other sites of skin damage. The surrounding area may be discolored or comparatively inelastic.
Like a BCC, it can be a persistent and non-healing sore. An SCC may also look like a wart that develops a crust and may bleed. It can be a raised growth with an indented center that grows rapidly and may bleed. An SCC can also be a patch of red and scaly skin that has irregular borders and may bleed or develop a crust. Whenever you have persistent skin sores, get them looked at by a dermatologist. If it is cancerous, then they can refer you to a cancer center for treatment and further evaluation.
Melanoma is, fortunately, less common than the other two types of skin cancer. It is also the most dangerous type, for it is the most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Doctors recommend two ways of identifying possible melanomas. One is the Ugly Duckling sign, in which the melanoma is a mole that looks different from other moles. It may be bigger, darker, or lighter than surrounding moles. It may also be the only mole in an otherwise mole-less area.
The other way is the ABCDEs, which also distinguishes a potentially cancerous mole from a healthy one. The initials stand for Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving. A normal mole has matching halves and an even border. It will be the same color throughout and have a diameter smaller than a pencil eraser. It also won’t change. Any mole that grows or changes colors should be examined by a doctor. So should a mole with mismatched halves, uneven borders, several different colors, or large diameter.
If you find a suspicious mole or patch of skin, you need to report it to your doctor. If it does turn out to be cancerous, the doctor will often have it surgically removed. In many cases, they will also recommend a treatment like chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.
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Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.
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