Skin cancer is classified as either melanoma or non-melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and
squamous cell carcinomas are non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma makes up the third
and more aggressive type of skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and accounts for approximately 80-85% of skin cancers. It commonly presents as a slow growing pink pearly growth, sometimes with crusting or bleeding. Basal Cell Carcinomas rarely spread to other body parts and ten to grow locally in the same area, but if left untreated, they can be locally destructive and disfiguring.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer and accounts for 15-20% of skin cancers in the United States. Approximately 250,000 Americans are diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the skin every year. It commonly presents as a pink, scaly, crusted lesion on sun exposed areas such as the head, face, neck and extremities. However, other areas such the mouth and genital can also be affected. If left untreated, squamous cell carcinomas can be locally destructive and can sometimes spread to other organs.
Melanoma is the third type of skin cancer and accounts for 1-5% of skin cancers. Although less common than other skin cancers, melanomas are the most aggressive and can spread to other organs if left untreated. Melanomas can be life threatening with a fatality rate higher than other skin cancers. Early detection and treatment is crucial for curing this type of cancer.
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
While skin cancer can occur in anyone, the below may increase your risk:
Family history of skin cancer
Age 40 or over, but also occurs in younger people
Long-term exposure to sunlight
Repeat exposure to ultraviolet rays
X-ray or radiation exposure
Multiple severe sunburns early in life
A large number of moles
Patients noticing abnormal skin growths should make an appointment with their dermatology clinic for evaluation.