Cancer of any kind is an abnormal growth of cells. In the United States and worldwide, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, affecting one in five people before they reach age 70.
Every hour, someone dies from skin cancer. Each day, nearly 10,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer, which is a higher figure than of all of the other cancers combined.
Fortunately, there are many signs of this insidious disease that can be caught early. Let’s take a look at some of the early signals of skin cancer and what you can do to stop it in its tracks.
What Are the Early Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of the three types, representing about 80% of all cases; and melanoma – also called malignant melanoma – is the most serious.
The type of skin cancer is named for the type of skin cell in which it develops, and each form of skin cancer looks noticeably different than the skin that surrounds it. If a new spot or mole appears on the skin, or if a pre-existing spot or mole changes color, shape, or size, have it checked by an experienced dermatologist.
Though the sun is a primary contributor to skin cancer, melanoma can appear on areas of the skin that have never been exposed to sunlight. Therefore, don’t assume that a spot or blemish is noncancerous simply because it’s not in an exposed area.
Left undetected and untreated, melanoma will grow rapidly and becomes life-threatening in a relatively short amount of time. Melanoma can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body within a matter of weeks.
How the Types of Skin Cancer Are Different
Melanoma produces a brown blemish with an odd shape and an irregular border. It forms on melanocytes, which produce the brown pigment.
Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for nearly 20% of skin cancers that aren’t melanoma. Changes beneath the skin, within fatty tissue, may be indicative of squamous cell cancer; it can also develop as a raised lesion. This type of skin cancer is characterized by slow growth, and spreading is unusual.
Basal cell carcinoma is the least-serious but most common type of cancer. Even though this type of cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body and rarely becomes malignant, early treatment is important so that the lesion doesn’t develop and fester.
Family Dermatologist in Miami
Don’t ignore signs of skin cancer. Be sure to have regular skin checkups, and tell your dermatologist about any unusual changes in moles and spots.
Remember, anyone can contract skin cancer – so wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors, wear sunscreen on the exposed areas of the skin, and wear protective clothing as much as possible.
Here at Children’s Skin Center, Dr. Ana Duarte and her team diagnose and treat multiple skin conditions, including skin cancer. To schedule an appointment for your own skin health, call us today at (305) 669-6555 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to being your whole family’s healthcare partner for healthy skin!