The most common type of cancer, skin cells are susceptible to the same abnormal, uncontrolled growth that causes other cancers. All types of skin cancers are generally curable, but early detection and treatment is critical. Knowing the type of skin cancer is important to assess the risk and to create the best possible treatment plan. Moreover, people who have had skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing a new skin cancer, which is why regular self-examination and doctor visits are imperative.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Whether you’re trying to diagnose a skin blemish, learn more about treatment options, or determine a schedule for skin cancer screenings, don’t wait to make an appointment for a consultation with our board-certified dermatologist.
Our dermatology clinics can alleviate your concerns, provide early detection and treatment, and remove non-cancerous skin blemishes. In the meantime, read through our resource pages for different types and symptoms of skin cancer.
You can find even more tips by looking at the symptoms and appearance for different types of skin cancers, but here is a general list of skin changes that can help you detect skin cancer:
The American Academy of Dermatology has developed the following ABCDE guide for assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may be becoming cancerous.
Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape or color.
Border: The edges of moles are irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined.
Color: The mole is not the same color throughout.
Diameter: The mole is usually greater than 6 millimeters when diagnosed, but may also be smaller.
Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that is different from the rest, or changes in size, shape, or color.
If any of these conditions occur, please make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists right away. The doctor may do a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is or isn’t cancerous.
Roughly 90% of nonmelanoma cancers are attributable to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. That’s why skin care prevention involves:
Anyone with troublesome moles, lesions, or ulcers that may be cancerous should get checked out by a dermatologist. Those with risk factors including a family history of skin cancer, being over 40, and regular exposure to the sun should also get regular skin checks. Again, early detection and treatment is the most important thing you can do to make sure your skin cancer treatment is effective.
No matter the type of skin cancer, there are five stages through which the cancer progresses. Knowing the type and the stage of your cancer will help you contextualize the risk and the need for treatment.
Stage 0—This is when a cancerous tumor first forms in the uppermost layers of skin and is still confined to the original tumor.
Stage 1—This stage occurs when the tumor becomes more defined and reaches the dermis. At this stage, the tumor is still less than 2mm. There may or may not be a visible ulcer.
Stage 2—Once this stage is reached, the tumor has grown larger than 2mm thick and there is visible ulceration. However, there is no evidence that the tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
Stage 3—The tumor has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but there is no evidence that the cancer has metastasized to distant organs.
Stage 4—The tumor has metastasized and reached organs beyond localized lymph nodes. The cancer may appear in vital organs, soft tissues, or other lymph nodes throughout the body.
Even then, the exact location and characteristics of your skin cancer growth may affect the overall treatment and monitoring plan. Your dermatologist will be to explain and respond to questions you may have about your individual skin cancer diagnosis.