Skin Cancer: What you need to know

Graphic illustrating skin and types of skin cancer

Skin cancer is among the most diagnosed cancers each year that, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, affects one in five people in their lifetime. While some types of skin cancer can be treated effectively, other types, particularly melanoma, can be fatal.

Types of Skin Cancer

The three commonly diagnosed cancers are Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: This often appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. Basal cell carcinoma occurs most often on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type develops in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin. It can infrequently spread throughout the body and is generally more aggressive than Basal Cell Carcinoma. Although usually not life-threatening, squamous cell carcinoma can be aggressive.
  • Melanoma: This is a serious form of skin cancer that begins in cells known as melanocytes. While it is less common than that the other two forms, melanoma is far more dangerous because of its ability to spread to other organs if it not treated at an early stage. It is the most concerning skin cancer, with high morbidity and mortality rates.

Detect Skin Cancer

Many types of skin cancer are treatable, especially if they’re detected early.

Look for potential signs of melanoma cancer. A-B-C-D-E is an easy way to monitor moles:

  • A is for Asymmetry – One half of the spot is unlike the other half.
  • B is for Border – The spot has an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border.
  • C is for Color – The spot has varying colors from one area to the next, such as shades of tan, brown or black, or areas of white, red, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter – While melanomas are usually greater than 6 millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser, when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • E is for Evolution— The spot looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape, or color.

The bottom Line

Examine your skin for changes at least once a month and make an appointment with us for your annual full skin check.

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