The earlier skin cancer is detected, the better the chance for successful outcomes. Keep an annual appointment with your dermatologist to check your skin. Additionally, schedule monthly self skin checks and watch for changes in skin, moles, and skin growths. Not all skin changes mean skin cancer; your doctor can determine if you have skin cancer or another condition.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Less common skin cancers include Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and Sebaceous gland carcinoma.
Skin cancer growth starts in the epidermis which is the top protective layer of skin. The epidermis has the three major cell types: squamous, basal, and melanocytes. The cells where the skin cancers starts also determines the type of skin cancer.
Basal cell cancer usually occurs on your face and/or neck, places that have a lot of sun exposure. Basal cell skin cancer can look like a flat flesh colored or brownish lesion, or it might present as a light bump. Basal cell cancer is usually benign and a biopsy usually removes the whole cancer. Basal cell skin cancer is not likely to spread.
Squamous cell skin cancer also is most likely to develop on the most sun-exposed parts of your body. Squamous cell skin cancer usually presents as a firm, red bump or a scaly, flat lesion. A biopsy will determine which stage of cancer you have. Further tests will help determine the extent of the cancer.
Melanoma skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body. It can also occur in an existing mole. Melanoma skin cancer lesions usually present as a large brown spot with darker spots on it; a mole that changes in color or size, or that bleeds; a small growth with irregular borders and colors, or dark lesions on body parts that are usually not exposed to the sun.
Skin cancer stages are determined from Stage I, small and limited cancer, to Stage IV which means the cancer has advanced to other parts of the body.
Your dermatologist will test and diagnose appropriately and then help you navigate through the most effective treatment plan.