What are the three main types of skin cancer?
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun (all year long, and in any weather) or tanning beds is linked to all of them.
Almost all skin cancers -95% -are basal cell and squamous cell cancers. Also called non-melanoma skin cancers, they are extremely curable when treated early.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Malignant Melanoma
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. It starts in skin pigment cells called melanocytes.
How important is treatment for skin cancer?
Early treatment importantly improves your chances of beating it.
Left untreated, it can spread to other parts of your body and become harder to control.
Your chances of getting skin cancer can be higher if you have:
- Fair skin
- Lots of moles, unusual moles, or large moles that were there at birth
- Close family members who have had skin cancer
- Had at least one severe sunburn early in life
- Burns not related to sunburn
- An indoor job but spend a lot of leisure time outside
- Light (blond or red) hair and blue or green eyes
- Certain genetic disorders that affect skin pigment, such as albinism
- Been treated for skin cancer
Who is at risk for melanoma?
Your risk for melanoma rises if:
- You’ve had severe sunburns and have more than 30 irregularly-shaped moles.
- You use tanning beds.
The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, typically a new mole or spot, or a change in an existing mole.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
Doctors generally diagnose skin cancer by doing a biopsy. You’ll be awake for this short, in-office procedure.
First, you’ll get some local anaesthesia, which means it will numb just that area of your skin. Your doctor will then take a small sample of skin.
A specialist will check the sample under a microscope to see if it’s cancer.
Your dermatologist can remove skin cancer in her office. You’ll be awake for the short process, with local anesthesia to numb the affected part of your skin. The doctor will remove the skin cancer and a tiny rim of normal-looking skin around it with a scalpel. She’ll use stitches or sutures to close up the skin.