What is Skin Cancer? It is simply skin cells with abnormal growth. Most frequently, skin cancer is found in the areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. Although light-skin people who burn easily in the sun have a higher risk of skin cancer, it does affect people of every race and color.
Many of My Patients Want to Know: “What does skin cancer look like?”
There are several types of skin cancer. They each present different skin symptoms and appearances. If you have any unusual bumps, moles, sores or lesions on your body, you should consult a dermatologist as soon as possible.
(AK) Actinic Keratoses
AK is dry, scaly spots or patches of skin, and are considered pre-cancerous growths. Typically fair skinned people are more prone to Actinic Keratoses. Because AKs develop after several years of sun exposure, they are more prevalent in people over 40. AKs are usually in the areas of the body that get the most sun exposure: the head, neck, arms and hands. Treatment of Actinic Keratoses is very important because it will often progress to a type of cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC).
(BCC) Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). This type of skin cancer can occur in people of any color or type of skin, but are most often in people with fair skin. BCCs appear like a pinkish patch of skin, or a flesh-colored bump (like a pearl). They typically develop after years of indoor tanning or repeated sun exposure. BCCs are most commonly located on the head, neck and arms. However, our office has seen them in many other locations including the legs, abdomen, back and chest. Early diagnosis is extremely important for successful treatment. BCC can spread to surrounding tissue, affecting nerves and bones, resulting in further damage and disfigurement.
(SCC) Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The 2nd most common type of skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Although light-skinned people are again the most susceptible to SCCs, dark-skinned people are definitely not immune. SCC presents as a firm red bump, persistent scaley patch, or a wound that gets better and then re-opens. SCC usually forms on areas of the skin that get lots of sun like the face, neck, back, arms and chest. It can grow deep into the skin tissue, causing extensive damage and disfigurement. The earlier SCC is diagnosed and treated, the less likely it is to spread to other areas of the body.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and can be deadly if not treated early. Melanoma often suddenly appears as a new dark spot on the skin. It can also develop in an existing mole. Catching Melanoma early is critical for effective treatment. Knowing the warning signs of Melanoma, performing monthly self-examinations, and seeing your dermatologist every year are your best defense.
Dr. Gurgen’s offices are located in The Villages and Leesburg, Florida. As one of the leading cancer physicians and Mohs Surgeons in the country, Dr. Gurgen and his staff diagnose and treat skin cancer regularly. If you have concerns about a spot you have discovered or have not had a skin examination recently, contact our office.