What are the Most Common Malignant Skin Cancers?

Did you know? More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells brought on by prolonged UV-exposure either from the sun or artificially through tanning beds. The disease can quickly travel through the bloodstream to vital internal organs making early-detection extremely important. There are three major types of skin cancer.

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma -This cancer typically appears as a white, waxy lump, a brown, scaly patch on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck, or red with tiny blood vessels growing into the lesion. They sometimes spontaneously bleed and are ‘friable.’ Basal Cell Carcinoma accounts for 80% of all cases of skin cancer.
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Squamous often looks like scaly red patches, open sores, warts or elevated growths with a central depression which can crust or bleed. Accounting for 16% of all skin cancers translates to over 115 diagnosed cases per hour in the U.S. alone.
  3. Malignant Melanoma -Symptoms might include a new, unusual growth or a change in an existing mole. Melanomas (just 4% of skin cancers) can occur anywhere on the body and are the deadliest form of cancer. In fact, one person dies from melanoma each hour.

While the above statistics may seem quite scary, skin cancer is highly treatable if found and removed early. Knowing the warning signs and detecting them early can be life-saving. Although melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, it can have a 100% cure-rate when caught early-on. Head-to-toe self-exams are recommended on a monthly basis. If you notice any growths that have changed in size, color, shape, or texture, consult a dermatologist immediately.

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Even if you don’t find anything abnormal, you’re encouraged to have a skin cancer screening at least once annually by a board-certified dermatologist. High-risk patients may want to consider scheduling bi-annual appointments. Your doctor will address any concerns you have and biopsy any suspicious growths for diagnosis. So, what if you get diagnosed with skin cancer? Finding out you have skin cancer can be nerve-racking but remember, early detection is key. Our skilled surgeons have performed hundreds of successful malignant cancer removals. We have a wide variety of treatment options that can be customized to fit your individual needs. For basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, we offer Mohs Micrographic Surgery; a highly-effective treatment that removes and examine one layer at a time. Mohs allows your board-certified surgeon to remove the entire cancer while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.