Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer, and its incidence has been increasing in the past several decades. The nonmelanoma skin cancers are the most commonly diagnosed malignancies in the United States and include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In all types of skin cancer, early diagnosis and treatment leads to better outcomes.
According to www.skincancer.org, about 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancer and 86% of melanomas are associated with exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV). UV exposure damages the skin’s DNA which leads to uncontrolled cell growth or tumors.
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma
BCC is found primarily in fair skinned individuals on skin exposed to the sun, particularly the face, nose, eyelids, neck and chest. It is benign and slow growing. BCC does not metastasize but can invade the skin locally and cause damage. BCC is the most common type of skin cancer affecting about 3 million Americans in their mid-60s every year.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma
SCC is also primarily found on sun exposed skin and can develop on body areas not normally exposed to the sun in people with darker skin. It is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC accounts for 20% of skin cancers, and an increased risk of a second SCC after a first diagnosis of SCC. SCC is the most common type of skin cancer in African Americans. A family history of SCC and melanoma are risk factors for the development of SCC. Surgical resection is a cure in most cases.
3. Malignant Melanoma
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of the melanin cells that make skin color. The vast majority are found in the skin, but some can develop in the mucosa and in the eyes. In 2019 there have been almost 100,000 new cases of melanoma. Melanoma causes about 1% of skin cancer deaths. Elderly men are the most at risk, but melanoma is also the most common cancer in people aged 15-29. Ocular melanoma is the most common cancer of the eye. In women melanoma typically appears on the arms and legs, and in men the most common site is the trunk and head and neck. Risk factors include sun exposure, multiple moles, family and person history of melanoma, a weakened immune system.
The best defense is developing sun protective behaviors including regular skin exams, and self-exams to optimize early detection of potentially malignant lesions. While skin cancer diagnosis is complicated, is vital to assure you receive a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Dr. Sedrak is a board-certified, fellowship trained dermatologist and MOHs surgeon. At the Texas Skin Cancer Center with offices in Houston, Kingwood and Sugarland, Texas you will always receive private, respectful and compassionate care in a state-of-the-art facility. Contact Texas Skin Cancer Center to schedule a consultation today. Don’t wait. Early diagnosis and treatment can save you from disfigurement and suffering.