Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the United States, and while some types of skin cancer can be easily treated, other types can be more dangerous. There are three main types of skin cancer — basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. The type of skin cancer one has affects treatment options and prognosis (outlook). It’s best to get an annual checkup for skin cancer from a physician or other professional; and, no matter what type, skin cancer should always be taken seriously.
Basal cell skin cancer is the most prevalent and least
dangerous type of skin cancer. It generally appears on the head, neck or upper torso, and it grows slowly. Spots, blemishes, freckles and moles are signs of sun-damaged skin. They are usually harmless, but if you notice them changing, see a doctor.
While not as dangerous as melanoma, squamous cell skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body over some months. It usually appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate. It is generally found on those areas of the skin that are most often exposed to the sun.
Risks and Warning Signs of Skin Cancer
Most moles, brown spots and other growths on the skin are usually harmless; however, it’s a good idea to have an annual skin check by a professional health care provider. Older adults, people who are fair-skinned, and those who have a lot of moles are generally at greater risk, so it’s important to know your skin well and recognize any changes that you see on your body.
Here’s an easy way to recognize if a mole or other skin lesion may be cancerous — just remember the ABCs of skin cancer:
Asymmetry: One half of the mole or lesion doesn’t match the other.
Border: The shape or edges of the mole are irregular.
Color: The color of the mole or lesion is not uniform.
Diameter: The mole is larger than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser).
Evolving: The size, shape or color of the mole or lesion changes.
Knowing these skin cancer ABCs will help you to spot most skin cancers — but it’s important to remember that not every skin cancer will show every one of these signs. It is safest to consult your doctor whenever you are unsure.
Causes of Skin Cancer
Like all other types of cancer, skin cancer occurs when there is damage to the DNA of normal cells, resulting in uncontrolled growth of these damaged or mutated cancer cells. According to the American Cancer Society, causes of skin cancer can include:
• Ultraviolet (UV) exposure – The sun is the bestknown source of UV radiation, but UV rays also come from artificial sources, such as tanning beds.
• Genetics – In a small percentage of skin cancers, risk factors can be inherited. Be sure to tell your physician if you have a family history of skin cancer.
• Immune system suppression – Some conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, and also certain medications can suppress the body’s immune system, which normally fights cancer.
• Radiation exposure – In addition to the sun, other forms of radiation, such as X-rays or therapeutic radiation, may adversely affect skin cells.
With all types of cancer, including skin cancer, early detection and diagnosis can make a big difference in outcome. If you suspect that you may have skin cancer, have your physician check it out immediately. Most skin cancers are easily treated and often cured; and for those more serious types, such as melanoma, the earlier it is discovered and treatment begins, the better the outcome
World-Class Cancer Treatment Close to Home
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) has put together a network of expert, board-certified
physicians who bring world‐class cancer treatments to local communities, both large and small, across the state. With nearly 100 locations, FCS is the largest independent oncology/ hematology group in the United States. That status puts the practice on the leading edge of clinical trial research and gives FCS physicians access to the newest, most innovative treatments.
Florida Cancer Specialists treats patients with all types of cancer, and offers a number of services, such as an in-house specialty pharmacy, an in-house pathology lab and financial counselors at every location, that deliver the most advanced and personalized care in your local community.
Florida Cancer Specialists
1630 SE 18th St.
Ocala, FL 34471
4600 SW 46th Court
Building 200, Suite 330
Ocala, FL 34474
For more information, visit FLCancer.com