What is Skin Cancer

What is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is responsible for half of all the types of cancers that are diagnosed every year. There are two types of skin cancer. Melanoma is usually the more serious type. Non-melanoma is less serious than melanoma unless it is not treated immediately or goes undetected. Squamous cell carcinoma and Basil cell carcinoma are the two most common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. Skin cancer is usually the result of too much exposure to the UV rays from direct sunlight or from tanning beds. An easy way to avoid this is by using the highest level of sunscreen on the market and limiting your exposure to direct sunlight

Signs of Skin Cancer

How do you know if you have skin cancer? If you have any type of sore or lump or bump that has changed shape or size or color, have it checked. Especially make sure to have any of the following looked at by your physician:

  • A smooth, pale lump, or spot that is shiny
  • A firm spot or lump that is red
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Areas of red or brown scaly skin
  • Red, skin colored, or purple bumps, usually not painful or itchy
  • A mole that changes size or color all of a sudden

Treatment Options

Once a biopsy has been performed to determine if you do have skin cancer and what kind it is, the appropriate treatment will be suggested. Early diagnosis is key to a quick and easy recovery.

  • Performing an excisional biopsy where the lesion is removed along with some of the healthy tissue that is around the lesion.
  • Removal of the tumor and then destroying the cancer cells that remain with a cauterizing tool
  • Cryosurgery, which is where liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the area and gets rid of the cancer cells.
  • Mohs Surgery, which is a specific procedure performed by a surgeon who has been trained specifically for this type of surgery. The surgeon goes in a removes the cancerous tissues layer by layer testing each layer to see if it is cancerous until it is clear of cancer.
  • Chemotherapy is still used to treat some forms of advanced skin cancers.
  • Aldara, which is a topical cream that can be used on precancerous conditions as well as cases of basal cell carcinoma.
  • If you are unable to have surgery, you may opt for radiation. It is still being used on inoperable cases or hard to reach tumors.