The most common types of skin cancer are:
Basal Cell Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body. Basal cell cancer usually occurs on areas of a person's skin that have been exposed to the sun. Often, it appears as a small, raised bump that has a smooth, pearly appearance. However, it can also look like a scar and be firm to the touch.
Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous cell cancer usually occurs on parts of a person's body that have been exposed to the sun. Often, it appears on the top of the nose, forehead, lower lip, and back of the hands. It also may appear on skin that has been severely sunburned, been exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, or had X-ray therapy.
Melanoma is one the most serious cancer of the skin. In some parts of the world, especially among Western countries, the number of people who develop melanoma is increasing faster than the number for any other cancer. In the United States, the incidence of melanoma has more than doubled in the past 20 years. One explanation for this trend is increased recreational exposure to the sun. That is why The Sun SafeTee Program is so important for golfers.
The good news is that when detected early, many skin cancers can be dealt with in a way that provides excellent outcomes. The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.
Check your skin regularly to pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer. Look for:
- any crusty, non-healing sores
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in color
- new spots, freckles or any moles changing in color, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in color)
If you notice any changes consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) or refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects a skin cancer. Even if you don’t notice any suspicious lesions, it is a good idea to see a skin cancer specialist (Dermatologist) once a year for a screening.
Lesions or growths that are known as precancerous can be treated. Often these lesions can be frozen (cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (using heat to destroy the growth).
Skin cancers are almost always removed surgically. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out.
Mohs Microsurgery is a technique used to remove the cancer with the least amount of surrounding tissue. During the surgery, the edges of the tissue that is cut out are checked immediately to see if tumor is found. This provides the opportunity to remove the least amount of tissue and provide the best cosmetically favorable results. This is especially important for areas where excess skin is limited, such as the face. Special training is required to perform this technique.