Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, and is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma is less common but more dangerous.
Skin cancers may have many different appearances; they can be small, shiny, waxy, scaly and rough, firm and red, crusty or bleeding, or have many other features. Therefore, anything suspicious should be looked at by a physician. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change in the appearance of the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that will not heal.
Anyone can get skin cancer but it is more common in people who spend a lot of time in the sun or have had multiple sunburns, have light-colored skin hair and eyes, have a family member that has had a skin cancer or is over age 50. Treatment is more likely to work well when cancer is found early. If not treated, some types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs and become life threatening.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer, affecting approximately two million Americans each year. More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are basal cell carcinomas. These cancers arise in the basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis. It rarely metastasizes or kills, but it is still considered malignant because it can cause significant destruction and disfigurement by invading surrounding tissues.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) arises in the squamous cells that make up most of the skin’s upper layers (epidermis). Squamous cell carcinomas may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun. More than 250,000 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed every year. That makes it the second most common skin cancer, after basal cell carcinoma.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. However, if it is recognized and treated early, it is nearly 100 percent curable. But if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths.
Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma
Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma is a class of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is a type of cancer of the immune system. The malignant T lymphocytes in the body initially migrate to the skin, causing various lesions to appear. These lesions change shape as the disease progresses, typically beginning as what appears to be a rash which can be itchy and can eventually form plaques and tumors before spreading to other parts of the body. The condition is usually slowly progressive and treatments can be very effective.