How much do you know about skin cancer? Aside from it being a deadly disease, did you know that it is the most common type of cancer, with more than 9,000 people diagnosed with it every day? Skin cancer is also the most preventable type and even curable, if detected and treated early enough.
If you’ve just received a skin cancer diagnosis, the following information can help you get a good starting point for your discussion with your dermatologist.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer develops when skin cells undergo a change in their DNA sequence (mutation). The mutations render skin cells incapable of understanding genetic instructions. As a result, cells multiply rapidly, forming tumors, some of which are malignant.
Outlined below are the main types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – This type of skin cancer often occurs on sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, ears, and neck. BCC may appear as a pink bump or a flat, scar-like lesion. While BCC is a slow-growing type of cancer, it can be locally disfiguring if not treated early. It can even metastasize (spread) to other areas, albeit this is not common.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – This type also often occurs on sun-exposed areas of the body, appearing as a red, scaly, or crusty lesion/bump. This type of cancer can sometimes grow rapidly and, if not detected and treated, can metastasize through the blood or lymphatic system to other parts of the body, such as the bones, tissues, and lymph nodes.
- Melanoma – Although less common compared to BCC and SCC, melanoma is the most dangerous among the common types of skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body, even on areas not exposed to the sun, and can resemble moles or sometimes arise from them.
Melanomas may bleed, have an irregular border, have darker speckles, and/or may change color, size or feel.
- Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) – This is a rare but aggressive type of skin cancer, and it often develops on sun-exposed areas of the body. It often appears as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule on or just beneath your skin.
An MCC has a high recurrence rate, and it also has a potential to metastasize throughout the body. Therefore, early detection and treatment are crucial.
Treatment for Skin Cancer
Treatment for skin cancer varies, depending on the type, location, and severity. For small or early BCC and SCC, there are various effective treatment options available.
Mohs micrographic surgery is the treatment of choice for BCCs and SCCs with a high risk for recurrence, or those in cosmetically sensitive locations, such as around the eyes, lips, ears, nose and scalp. Mohs surgery requires a local anesthesia and is carried out in stages to progressively remove and evaluate thin layers of skin containing cancer cells, until only healthy tissue remains. Mohs micrographic surgery boasts a cure rate of 99 percent for newly diagnosed skin cancers and 99 percent for recurring ones. Since it spares healthy tissue, Mohs allows for faster healing and better cosmetic results.
Other types of skin cancer treatments include the following:
- Curettage and electrodesiccation (electrosurgery)
- Laser surgery
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
- Radiation therapy
- Surgical excision
- Targeted therapy
- Topical and/or oral medications
If you have melanoma or MCC, your treatment will depend on the stage of the disease, the location, and your overall health. A combination of treatments may be necessary for these types of skin cancers.
Skin Cancer Screening in Winder, Athens, Lake Oconee, Elberton and Commerce, GA
Here at Georgia Skin Cancer & Aesthetic Dermatology, our team includes a highly credentialed skin cancer specialist and Mohs surgeon— Dr. Ross Campbell, one of Georgia’s most trusted. Dr. Campbell’s excellent reputation stems from his compassionate approach to care and excellent track record, having been a part of countless testimonials of people who have won their battle against skin cancer. You couldn’t be in more competent hands!
Arrange your visit appointment with Dr. Campbell today. Contact us at (706) 573-5858. You may also use our appointment request form, and our friendly staff will contact you promptly to schedule your visit. We’re eager to serve you at one of our locations: in Athens, Lake Oconee, Commerce, Elberton, Gainesville, or Winder!