Skin cancer: what is it?

Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma) – Introduction

Skin cancer: what is it?

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some basic information about this disease and the parts of the body it may affect. This is the first page of Cancer.Net’s Guide to Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer. Use the menu to see other pages. Think of that menu as a roadmap for this complete guide. 

About the skin

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects the body against infection and injury and helps regulate body temperature. The skin also stores water and fat and produces vitamin D.

The skin is made up of 3 main layers:

  • The epidermis. The outer layer of skin.
  • The dermis. The inner layer of skin.
  • The hypodermis. The deep layer of fat.

See the Medical Illustrations section for a drawing of these layers.

About skin cancer

Cancer begins when healthy cells change and grow control, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.

Doctors diagnose skin cancer in more than 3 million Americans each year, making it the most common type of cancer.

If skin cancer is found early, it can usually be treated with topical medications, procedures done in the office by a dermatologist, or an outpatient surgery.

A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in diseases and conditions of the skin. As a result, skin cancer is responsible for less than 1% of all cancer deaths.

In some cases, skin cancer may be more advanced and require management by a multidisciplinary team that often includes a dermatologist, surgical oncologist, radiation oncologist, and a medical oncologist.  These doctors will meet with a patient, and together they will recommend the best path forward to treat the cancer.

 In some instances, the surgical oncologist will recommend a surgery to be performed in an operating room because the procedure to treat the cancer is too extensive for an office setting.

  Other times, radiation therapy and/or treatments using medication given by mouth or by vein are recommended by the team either in place of or in combination with surgery.

Types of skin cancer

There are 4 main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma. Basal cells are the round cells found in the lower epidermis. About 80% of skin cancers develop from this type of cell. These cancers are described as basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinoma most often develops on the head and neck, although it can be found anywhere on the skin. It is mainly caused by sun exposure or develops in people who received radiation therapy as children. This type of skin cancer usually grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma. Most of the epidermis is made up of flat, scale- cells called squamous cells. Around 20% of skin cancers develop from these cells, and these cancers are called squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinoma is mainly caused by sun exposure, so it may be diagnosed on many regions of the skin. It can also develop on skin that has been burned, damaged by chemicals, or exposed to x-rays. Squamous cell carcinoma is commonly found on the lips; at sites of a long-standing scar; and on the skin outside the mouth, anus, and a woman’s vagina. About 2% to 5% of squamous cell carcinomas spread to other parts of the body, which makes it more ly to spread than basal cell carcinoma.
  • Merkel cell cancer. Merkel cell cancer is a highly aggressive, or fast-growing, rare cancer. It starts in hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. It is usually found in the head and neck region. Merkel cell cancer may also be called neuroendocrine carcinoma of the skin.
  • Melanoma. Where the epidermis meets the dermis, there are scattered cells called melanocytes. These cells produce the pigment melanin, which gives skin its color. Melanoma starts in melanocytes, and it is the most serious type of skin cancer. For more information about melanoma, visit the melanoma section on this same website.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are generally grouped together and called “keratinocyte carcinomas,” because they begin in a type of skin cell called a keratinocyte. They are also called “non-melanoma skin cancer” to distinguish them from melanoma.

Melanoma is treated differently because it is more ly to spread than other skin cancers. Merkel cell cancer frequently is grouped separately from basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, although technically it is considered a non-melanoma skin cancer.

There are a few other, rare types of skin cancer, including cutaneous (skin) lymphomas, Kaposi sarcoma, skin adnexal tumors, and sarcomas, all of which are classified as non-melanoma skin cancers. The rest of this section focuses on the more common non-melanoma skin cancers.

The next section in this guide is Statistics. It helps explain the number of people who are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer and general survival rates. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.

Source: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/skin-cancer-non-melanoma/introduction

Skin cancer (non-melanoma)

Skin cancer: what is it?

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which can be more serious.

In the UK, around 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year. It affects more men than women and is more common in the elderly.

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks and slowly progresses over months or sometimes years. This is the cancer, or tumour.

In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers, while cancerous patches are usually flat and scaly.

Non-melanoma skin cancer most often develops on areas of skin regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back.

See a GP if you have any skin abnormality, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or skin discolouration that has not healed after 4 weeks. While it's unly to be skin cancer, it's best to get it checked.

Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop.

The 2 most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:

  • basal cell carcinoma (BCC), also known as a rodent ulcer, starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis and accounts for about 75 in every 100 skin cancers
  • squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis and accounts for about 20 in every 100 skin cancers

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) usually appears as a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a translucent or waxy appearance. It can also look a red, scaly patch.

There's sometimes some brown or black pigment within the patch.

The lump slowly gets bigger and may become crusty, bleed or develop into a painless ulcer.

Basal cell carcinoma does not usually spread to other parts of the body. There's a small risk (up to 5%) of squamous cell carcinoma spreading to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes (small glands found throughout your body).

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) appears as a firm pink lump with a rough or crusted surface. There can be a lot of surface scale and sometimes even a spiky horn sticking up from the surface.

The lump often feels tender when touched, bleeds easily and may develop into an ulcer.

For both SCC and BCC there can sometimes be considerable skin damage if the tumour is not treated.

Bowen's disease

Bowen's disease is a precancerous form of Squamous cell carcinoma SCC sometimes referred to as squamous cell carcinoma in situ. It develops slowly and is easily treated. 

The main sign is a red, scaly patch on the skin that may itch. It most commonly affects elderly women and is often found on the lower leg. However, it can appear on any area of skin.

Although not classed as non-melanoma skin cancer, Bowen's disease can sometimes develop into SCC if left untreated.

Actinic keratoses

Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are dry, scaly patches of skin caused by damage from years of sun exposure.

The patches can be pink, red or brown, and can vary in size from a few millimetres to a few centimetres across.

The affected skin can sometimes become very thick, and occasionally the patches can look small horns or spikes.

Bowen's disease, actinic keratosis is not classed as non-melanoma skin cancer, but there's a small risk that the patches could develop into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) if untreated.

Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. UV light comes from the sun, as well as from artificial tanning sunbeds and sunlamps.

Other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer include:

  • a previous non-melanoma skin cancer
  • a family history of skin cancer
  • pale skin that burns easily
  • a large number of moles or freckles
  • taking medicine that suppresses your immune system
  • a co-existing medical condition that suppresses your immune system

A GP can examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. They may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) or a specialist plastic surgeon if they're unsure or suspect skin cancer.

You'll have an urgent referral (within 2 weeks) if you have squamous cell skin cancer.

Basal cell skin cancers usually do not need an urgent referral, but you should still see a specialist within 18 weeks.

Find out more about NHS waiting times

The specialist will examine your skin and may do a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer.

A biopsy is a procedure where some of the affected skin is removed so it can be examined.

Surgery is the main treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer. It involves removing the cancerous tumour and some of the surrounding skin.

Other treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include freezing (cryotherapy), anti-cancer creams, radiotherapy and a form of light treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT).

The treatment used will depend on the type, size and location of the non-melanoma skin cancer you have.

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is usually successful as, un most other types of cancer, there's a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) does not usually spread to other parts of the body. There's a small risk (up to 5%) of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) spreading to other parts of the body, usually the lymph nodes (small glands found throughout your body).

However, for both BCC and SCC there can sometimes be considerable skin damage if the tumour is not treated.

At least 9 10 non-melanoma skin cancer cases are successfully cured.

If you've had non-melanoma skin cancer in the past, there's a chance the condition may return.

The chance of non-melanoma skin cancer returning is increased if your previous cancer was large in size and high grade (severe).

If your cancer team feels there's a significant risk of non-melanoma skin cancer returning, you'll probably need regular check-ups to monitor your health.

It's also important to be aware that if you've had a non-melanoma skin cancer, your risk of developing another one in the future is increased because these cancers are often multiple.

This means it's important to regularly examine your skin to check for new tumours.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is not always preventable, but you can reduce your chance of developing it by avoiding overexposure to UV light.

You can protect yourself from sunburn by using high-factor sunscreen, dressing sensibly in the sun, and limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Sunbeds and sunlamps should also be avoided.

Regularly checking your skin for signs of skin cancer can help lead to an early diagnosis and increase your chance of successful treatment.

Find out more about sunscreen and sun safety

Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-melanoma-skin-cancer/

Skin cancer: What are the causes?

Skin cancer: what is it?

  • What Causes It?
  • Who’s Most at Risk?
  • Can You Prevent Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. But it’s also one of the most curable cancers when we catch it early.

Melanoma is a rare and very aggressive form of skin cancer that forms in the melanocytes. These are the cells that produce your pigment, which is called melanin.

But the majority of skin cancers are nonmelanoma, meaning they do not involve the melanocytes. The two most common of these are basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. They can almost always be cured if caught early.

But melanoma — if you don’t find and treat it early — can quickly become a problem that is more difficult to treat.

Skin cancer develops when one of the three types of cells that make up your skin reproduce abnormally. As they grow and divide without stopping, they can metastasize. This means they spread to other places in your body through your lymphatic system.

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. When you don’t protect your skin, UV rays from sunlight or tanning beds can damage your skin’s DNA. When the DNA is altered, it can’t properly control skin cell growth, leading to cancer. A number of things can raise your chances of getting it.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer and melanoma have many causes in common. Some you can control, others you can’t.

Sun damage. If you have a history of sunburn, or have spent a lot of time in the sun, your odds go up for both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Light skin, eyes, and hair. The less pigment you have in your skin, the less protection your cells have against dangerous UV rays. Nonmelanoma is rare if your skin is dark, but you can still get melanoma.

Location. If you live in a warm climate, or high elevation, you’re exposed to higher amounts of UV radiation from the sun, which can make your odds of melanoma go up.

Age. As the years go by, you experience more and more damaging UV rays. Most nonmelanomas seem to show up in adults 50 and older.

History of skin cancer. If you’ve already had nonmelanoma skin cancer, you’re more ly to develop it again. And if someone in your family has had it, your chances go up, as well. The same goes for melanoma. If you have a parent or sibling that’s had melanoma, your odds of developing it increase, too.

Gender. Men are more ly to get nonmelanoma skin cancer than women. However, women under 50 are more ly to develop melanoma than men their age.

Exposure to toxins. Working around chemicals arsenic, and exposure to radiation, can damage skin cells and increase your chances of getting skin cancer.

Having moles. The more moles you have, the higher your chances of developing melanoma.

A weak immune system. If your immune system is compromised, your body can’t fight off the cancer.

Your best shot at preventing skin cancer is to protect yourself from the damaging rays of the sun by doing the following:

  • Protect your skin with sunblock (at least SPF 30 with broad spectrum)
  • Wear tight-weave clothing, and a wide-brimmed hat
  • Avoid the outdoors or find shade when the sun is most intense
  • Stay the sun when taking certain medications
  • Never use a tanning bed

You can’t always prevent skin cancer. But regular skin checks can help you catch it early. The faster it’s diagnosed and treated, the easier it is to cure.

SOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Vital Signs: Melanoma Incidence and Mortality Trends and Projections — United States, 1982-2030.”

American Cancer Society: “Cancer Facts & Figures 2016.”

American Cancer Society: “Melanoma Skin Cancer.”

National Cancer Institute: “What is Cancer?”

Mayo Clinic: “Diseases and Conditions, Skin cancer.”

Mayo Clinic: “Melanoma.”

Melanoma Research Foundation.

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/causes-skin-cancer

What Are Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers? | Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer: what is it?

Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:

  • Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form. When these cells grow control, they can develop into squamous cell skin cancer (also called squamous cell carcinoma).
  • Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skin’s surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells. Skin cancers that start in the basal cell layer are called basal cell skin cancers or basal cell carcinomas.
  • Melanocytes: These cells make the brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin acts as the body’s natural sunscreen, protecting the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma skin cancer starts in these cells.

The epidermis is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. When a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it generally grows through this barrier and into the deeper layers.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (also called basal cell skin cancer) is most common type of skin cancer. About 8 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas (also called basal cell cancers).

These cancers start in the basal cell layer, which is the lower part of the epidermis.

These cancers usually develop on sun-exposed areas, especially the face, head, and neck. They tend to grow slowly. It’s very rare for a basal cell cancer to spread to other parts of the body. But if it's left untreated, basal cell cancer can grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin.

If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can come back (recur) in the same place on the skin. People who have had basal cell skin cancers are also more ly to get new ones in other places.

Squamous cell carcinoma

About 2 10 skin cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (also called squamous cell cancers). These cancers start in the flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis.

These cancers commonly appear on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face, ears, neck, lips, and backs of the hands. They can also develop in scars or chronic skin sores elsewhere. They sometimes start in actinic keratoses (described below). Less often, they form in the skin of the genital area.

Squamous cell cancers can usually be removed completely (or treated in other ways), although they are more ly than basal cell cancers to grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body.

Actinic keratosis (solar keratosis)

Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a pre-cancerous skin condition caused by too much exposure to the sun.

AKs are usually small (less than 1/4 inch across), rough or scaly spots that may be pink-red or flesh-colored.

Usually they start on the face, ears, backs of the hands, and arms of middle-aged or older people with fair skin, although they can occur on other sun-exposed areas. People who have them usually develop more than one.

AKs tend to grow slowly and usually do not cause any symptoms (although some might be itchy or sore). They sometimes go away on their own, but they may come back.

A small percentage of AKs may turn into squamous cell skin cancers. Most AKs do not become cancer, but it can be hard sometimes to tell them apart from true skin cancers, so doctors often recommend treating them. If they are not treated, you and your doctor should check them regularly for changes that might be signs of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen disease)

Squamous cell carcinoma in situ, also called Bowen disease, is the earliest form of squamous cell skin cancer. “In situ” means that the cells of these cancers are still only in the epidermis (the upper layer of the skin) and have not invaded into deeper layers.

Bowen disease appears as reddish patches. Compared with AKs, Bowen disease patches tend to be larger, redder, scalier, and sometimes crusted. AK, Bowen disease usually doesn’t cause symptoms, although it might be itchy or sore.

most other skin cancers (and AKs), these patches most often appear in sun-exposed areas. Bowen disease can also occur in the skin of the anal and genital areas (where it is known as erythroplasia of Queyrat or Bowenoid papulosis). This is often related to sexually transmitted infection with human papillomaviruses (HPVs), the viruses that can also cause genital warts.

Bowen disease can sometimes progress to an invasive squamous cell skin cancer, so doctors usually recommend treating it. People who have these are also at higher risk for other skin cancers, so close follow-up with a doctor is important.

Keratoacanthoma

Keratoacanthomasare dome-shaped tumors that are found on sun-exposed skin. They may start out growing quickly, but their growth usually slows down. Many keratoacanthomas shrink or even go away on their own over time without any treatment.

But some continue to grow, and a few may even spread to other parts of the body.

They can be hard to tell apart from squamous cell skin cancer, and their growth is often hard to predict, so many skin cancer experts recommend treating them (typically with surgery).

Melanoma

These cancers develop from melanocytes, the pigment-making cells found in the epidermis. Melanomas are much less common than basal and squamous cell cancers, but they are more ly to grow and spread if left untreated. Melanoma are discussed in Melanoma Skin Cancer.

Less common types of skin cancer

Other types of skin cancer are much less common and are treated differently. These include:

Together, these types account for less than 1% of all skin cancers.

Benign skin tumors

Most skin tumors are benign (not cancerous) and rarely if ever turn into cancers. There are many kinds of benign skin tumors, including:

  • Most types of moles (see Melanoma Skin Cancer for more about moles)
  • Seborrheic keratoses: tan, brown, or black raised spots with a waxy texture or occasionally a slightly rough and crumbly surface when they are on the legs (also known as stucco keratosis)
  • Hemangiomas: benign blood vessel growths, often called strawberry spots
  • Lipomas: soft tumors made up of fat cells
  • Warts: rough-surfaced growths caused by some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)

Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/basal-and-squamous-cell-skin-cancer/about/what-is-basal-and-squamous-cell.html

Skin Cancer Information – The Skin Cancer Foundation

Skin cancer: what is it?

1 OUT
OF 5

Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.

What is it? Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are abnormal, uncontrolled growths that arise from the skin’s basal cells in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis).

Where is it usually found? These cancers most often develop on skin areas typically exposed to the sun, especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders and back.

What causes it? Most BCCs are caused by the combination of intermittent, intense exposure and cumulative, long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

How many people get it? BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, with more than 4 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year.

How serious is it? BCCs can be locally destructive if not detected and treated early. Occasionally these cancers metastasize (spread); and in very rare instances they can be fatal.

What is it? Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the outmost layer of skin (epidermis).

Where is it usually found? SCCs are common on sun-exposed areas such as the ears, face, scalp, neck and hands, where the skin often reveals signs of sun damage, including wrinkles and age spots.

What causes it? Cumulative, long-term exposure to UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds causes most SCCs.

How many people get it? SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

How serious is it? SCCs can sometimes grow rapidly and metastasize if not detected and treated early. As many as 15,000 deaths occur from invasive SCC of the skin each year in the U.S.

What is it? Melanoma is a cancer that develops from melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin pigment, which gives skin its color.

Where is it usually found? Melanomas often resemble moles and sometimes may arise from them. They can be found on any area of the body, even in areas that are not typically exposed to the sun.

What causes it? Melanoma is often triggered by the kind of intense, intermittent sun exposure that leads to sunburn. Tanning bed use also increases risk for melanoma.

How many people get it? In 2019, more than 192,000 new cases of melanoma are expected to occur in the U.S., about 96,000 of which will be invasive.

How serious is it? Melanoma is the most dangerous of the three most common forms of skin cancer. Melanomas can be curable when caught and treated early. In 2019, melanoma is projected to cause about 7,200 deaths.

What is it? Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer.

Where is it usually found? These tumors usually appear as firm, painless lesions or nodules on a sun-exposed area (about half of the time on the head and neck, and frequently on the eyelids).

What causes it? Usually associated with a virus called the Merkel cell polyomavirus, MCCs are believed to begin in Merkel cells at the base of the epidermis. They most often arise on sun-exposed areas in fair-skinned individuals over age 50.

How many people get it? About 2,500 new cases of MCC and about 700 deaths from it occur in the U.S. each year, and that is expected to rise.

How serious is it? MCCs are at high risk of recurring and metastasizing throughout the body, so early detection and treatment are crucial.

Reviewed by: Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD
Last reviewed: February 2019

Source: https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/

What is skin cancer? How to spot the signs and when to seek help

Skin cancer: what is it?

Are you at risk for developing skin cancer, what’s considered to be the most common cancer in the U.S.?

An estimated one in five Americans will develop the condition during their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. But what is skin cancer? And why are some people more prone to developing it than others?

KENTUCKY MOM DIAGNOSED WITH SKIN CANCER, LEFT WITH MASSIVE SCAR AFTER USING TANNING BEDS FOR YEARS

“If you have skin, you can get skin cancer,” Dr. Saya Obayan, a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Austin, Texas, and a spokesperson for The Skin Cancer Foundation, told Fox News.

Read on for a look at skin cancer and what to do if you’re concerned you may have it.

Fox News: What is skin cancer?

Dr. Saya Obayan: Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that cause the cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. This damage is often caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds.

Fox News: Are there different types of skin cancer? Are there some types that are more severe than others?

Dr. Saya Obayan: The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. These cancers form within the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest part of the epidermis – the outermost layer of the skin.

They sometimes look open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. Almost all BCCs occur on parts of the body excessively exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back.

Because BCCs grow slowly, most are curable and cause minimal damage when caught early.

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Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common kind of skin cancer, and form in the squamous cells of the epidermis.

  SCC is mainly caused by cumulative UV exposure over the course of a lifetime and is typically found in areas frequently exposed to the sun (the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms, and legs).

SCCs may look scaly red patches, open sores, warts or elevated growths with a central depression; they may crust or bleed. Most SCCs can be easily and successfully treated, but if allowed to grow, they can become disfiguring and even deadly.

the more common forms of skin cancer, melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanoma develops from melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin pigment, which gives skin its color.  It is often triggered by intense, intermittent UV exposure — the kind that can come from indoor tanning or excessive sunbathing.

Melanomas often resemble moles, and can even develop from moles. Many of them are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

Melanoma is usually curable if detected and treated early, but can become more difficult to treat and can be deadly if it spreads deeper into the skin or other parts of the body.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. (iStock)

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) is a much rarer form of skin cancer, but it can be extremely aggressive and has a high chance of spreading and recurring. MCCs begin in Markel cells at the base of the epidermis. They usually appear as firm, painless lesions or nodules on a sun-exposed area (sometimes on the head and neck, and frequently on eyelids).

Fox News: Why do some people develop it? Who is most at risk?

Dr. Saya Obayan: First of all, if you have skin, you can get skin cancer. But there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing the disease. These include a history of indoor tanning or sunburns, your skin type (the lighter your complexion, the more at risk you are), and genetics.

A history of tanning bed use, even just once, can increase your risk for skin cancer. In fact, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent.

 A history of sunburns also increases your risk — on average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if they have had more than five sunburns. But don’t assume you’re safe just because you don’t burn.

A tan is the skin’s attempt to prevent further injury by increasing skin pigment, which means you’ve already sustained skin cell damage.

 People with very fair skin are extremely susceptible to skin damage from UV radiation, and therefore to developing skin cancer. People of color are less susceptible to UV damage due to the greater amounts of melanin darker skin produces, but they are still at risk. When they do develop skin cancer, it tends to be found at a later, more deadly stage.   

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Wearing sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer. (iStock)

Lastly, genetics plays a role in melanoma — about one in every 10 patients diagnosed with the disease has a family member with a history of melanoma. If your mother, father or siblings had melanoma, you’re in a melanoma-prone family.

Fox News:  Is skin cancer difficult to treat?

Dr. Saya Obayan: The earlier a skin cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

The larger and deeper a tumor grows, the more dangerous and potentially disfiguring it may become, and the more extensive the treatment must be.

  Most skin cancers can be treated successfully when detected at an early stage. When left untreated, skin cancer cells can spread, grow deep into the skin, and be more ly to reoccur.

A dermatologist will weigh several factors before determining the best course of treatment, including the size, location, and of course, type of the tumor. A patient’s age and medical history will also be considered.

these factors, a variety of treatments can be used: surgery, laser, and light-based treatments, radiation therapy, topical medications, and oral or injected medications.

In more advanced cases where cancer has spread beyond the tumor site, chemotherapy may also be used.

Fox News: How can you protect yourself from developing skin cancer?

Dr. Saya Obayan: Prevention is key when it comes to skin cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended a complete sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade, covering up with clothing, hats, and sunglasses and wearing sunscreen every day.

Clothing is the most effective form of sun protection — it’s our first line of defense against the sun’s harmful rays.

It’s also less complicated than sunscreen since you don’t need to worry about adequate application and reapplication.

Wear hats with a brim that extends three inches or more all the way around to shade your face, neck, and ears. Look for sunglasses that cover the eyelids and as much of the surrounding area as possible.

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

You should apply two tablespoons (equivalent to about a shot glass full) of sunscreen to the entire body, and a nickel-sized dollop to the face.

Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.

Lastly, seek the shade when you can, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Fox News: When should you see a doctor?

MOM TOLD CANCER WOULD 'EAT AWAY AT YOUR NOSE' WITHOUT URGENT TREATMENT

Dr. Saya Obayan: Early detection is critical since skin cancers found and removed early are highly treatable.

If it goes undetected, however, skin cancer can become disfiguring and even deadly. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone see a dermatologist annually for a professional skin exam.

In addition to this, you should be checking your skin from head-to-toe carefully once a month.

Skin cancers can have an incredibly varied appearance, but the bottom line is if you see something new, changing or unusual, get it checked by a dermatologist as soon as possible.

This includes any new moles, moles that change size or shape, a growth that won’t stop itching or bleeding, or an open sore that won’t heal within three weeks.

Skin cancer can also resemble something as nondescript as a pimple or crusty red patch, so it’s important to check your skin often and take note of any changes.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/health/what-is-skin-cancer-signs-getting-help

What Is Melanoma Skin Cancer? | What Is Melanoma?

Skin cancer: what is it?

Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:

  • Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form.
  • Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skin’s surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: These are the cells that can become melanoma. They normally make a brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin protects the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun.

The epidermis is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. When a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it generally grows through this barrier and into the deeper layers.

Melanoma skin cancers

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes. Other names for this cancer include malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma. Most melanoma cells still make melanin, so melanoma tumors are usually brown or black. But some melanomas do not make melanin and can appear pink, tan, or even white.

Melanomas can develop anywhere on the skin, but they are more ly to start on the trunk (chest and back) in men and on the legs in women. The neck and face are other common sites.

Having darkly pigmented skin lowers your risk of melanoma at these more common sites, but anyone can get melanoma on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or under the nails. Melanomas in these areas make up a much larger portion of melanomas in African Americans than in whites.

Melanomas can also form in other parts of your body, such as the eyes, mouth, genitals, and anal area, but these are much less common than melanoma of the skin.

Melanoma is much less common than some other types of skin cancer. But melanoma is more dangerous because it’s much more ly to spread to other parts of the body if not caught and treated early.

Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers

Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are by far the most common skin cancers, and actually are more common than any other form of cancer. Because they rarely spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are usually less concerning and are treated differently from melanoma. These cancers are discussed in Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer.

Less common skin cancers

Other types of non-melanoma skin cancer are much less common than basal and squamous cell cancers and are treated differently. They include:

Together, these types account for less than 1% of all skin cancers.

Benign tumors that start in melanocytes

A mole (nevus) is a benign skin tumor that develops from melanocytes. Almost everyone has some moles. Nearly all moles (nevi) are harmless, but having some types can raise your risk of melanoma. See Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer for more information about moles.

A Spitz nevus is a kind of mole that sometimes looks melanoma. It’s more common in children and teens, but it can also be seen in adults. These tumors are typically benign and don’t spread. But sometimes doctors have trouble telling Spitz nevi from true melanomas, even when looking at them under a microscope. Therefore, they are often removed, just to be safe.

Benign tumors that develop from other types of skin cells

  • Seborrheic keratoses: tan, brown, or black raised spots with a “waxy” texture
  • Hemangiomas: benign blood vessel growths, often called strawberry spots
  • Lipomas: soft growths made up of fat cells
  • Warts: rough-surfaced growths caused by some types of human papilloma virus (HPV)

Most of these tumors rarely, if ever, turn into cancers. There are many other kinds of benign skin tumors, but most are not very common.

Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/what-is-melanoma.html

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