Inspection of your skin is vital. If you have a spot that looks a little different than the others or falls into the ABCDEs of Melanoma, please speak with your doctor today. Certain skin cancers, including malignant melanoma, are curable if caught early.
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce the dark, protective pigment called melanin. Individual lesions may appear as a dark brown, black or multi-colored growth with irregular borders that can become crusted and bleed.
Melanoma may affect anyone at any age and can occur anywhere on the body. An increased risk of developing this disease is seen in people who have fair skin, light hair and eye color, a family history of melanoma or who have had melanoma in the past. These tumors can arise in or near a preexisting mole or may appear without warning. Melanoma may spread to other organs, making it essential to treat this skin cancer early.
Atypical nevi, also known as atypical moles, are benign lesions that have irregular and indistinct borders, are darker in color, and often larger than normal moles. An Atypical nevus occurs when melanocytic cells that represent your skin color grow in organized clusters instead of being evenly distributed throughout your skin. These atypical nevi generally first appear during adolescence, although they can develop during any period of your life. Family history, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and extreme hormonal changes during puberty and pregnancy are also contributing factors in the development of atypical nevi. Atypical nevi can be found anywhere on the body but are most commonly found in sun-exposed areas such as the back, chest, face, abdomen and extremities.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It occurs most frequently on sun-exposed regions of the body. Although this skin cancer rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other organs of the body, it can cause destruction of surrounding tissue. Thus early detection and treatment are needed.
Most basal cell carcinomas are caused by chronic sun exposure, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. In a few instances, there are other contributing factors such as burns, exposure to radiation, arsenical intoxication or chronic dermatitis.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a major type of cancer that arises from the outer epidermal layer of the skin and mucous membranes and occurs most commonly on areas exposed to the sun. If untreated, squamous cell carcinoma may penetrate and destroy underlying tissue. In a small percentage of cases, this tumor can spread (metastasize) to distant organs and may be fatal. Chronic sun exposure is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes.
Other factors that may contribute to the development of this cancer include burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions and immunosuppression.
Actinic Keratosis (AK)
Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a precancerous lesion of the epidermis (outer layer of skin) that is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. Chronic sunlight exposure alters the keratinocytes (cells that make up the majority of the epidermis) and causes areas of your skin to become scaly, rough, discolored and sometimes tender to the touch. AKs are most commonly found on sun-exposed areas such as the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and backs of hands. People who have fair skin and light- colored hair and eyes are at the greatest risk of developing AKs. Individuals who are immunosuppressed, either by cancer chemotherapy treatments or organ transplants, and who have an immuno-deficiency disorder, are also considered high risk for developing AKs.
Seborrheic Keratoses (SK)
Seborrheic Keratoses (SKs) are common, noncancerous lesions that grow on the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and can develop on any part of the body. SKs usually begin as rough, itchy bumps and can thicken and darken to a brown or black color over time. They are usually roundor oval-shaped growths with an elevated, rough surface and sometimes seem to be glued to the skin or dropped on like candle wax. Though they may appear to spread, SKs are not contagious. There is no known cause of SKs to date, but the lesions become more common with age. They are not believed to be caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and do not have a higher chance of turning into skin cancer, including melanoma. SKs are not a sign of serious health issues except in very rare instances, when they can develop suddenly in very large numbers and can be associated with internal malignancies. Although harmless, SKs should be observed regularly, like the rest of your skin, for any changes in size, shape or color. Any growth that bleeds, itches or becomes irritated should be checked by a dermatologist.