As the most common form of cancer in the United States, around 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each day. This means that around one out of every five Americans will develop some form of this disease during their lifetimes. And what’s more, the incidence of skin cancer is rising, with a 263% increase reported from 2000 to 2010.
At Dermatology Associates in Fayetteville, our experts diagnose and treat various forms of skin cancer in patients from across central New York. We also offer preventative screening tests to help you and your family stay ahead of any skin conditions that may come your way.
What Is Skin Cancer?
In general, skin cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. As these harmful cells develop, they can eventually become tumors. These tumors can either be benign, which are not cancerous and contained to one spot on the body. Or, they can be malignant, meaning that the tumors are cancerous, dangerous, and can spread to neighboring bones, tissues, or organs.
Types of Skin Cancer
Many different types of skin cancer exist. However, they are typically divided up between the following three categories:
Basal cell carcinoma
Representing between 70 and 80% of all skin carcinomas, this form of cancer first develops in the basal cells, which produce new skin cells as old ones die away. This cancer usually develops on the most sun-exposed parts of our bodies, including the head and neck. However, it can also occur on the genitals and other areas of the body that are normally concealed, but this is less common. Symptoms frequently include a noticeable bump, which can be pearly white, skin-colored, or pink. Among others, a flat, scaly skin patch is also common.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It grows very slowly, often occurring on areas of the body that have been damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays. This usually includes the head, neck, chest, upper back, and lips, but no part of the body is truly immune. This disease starts as a bump or scaly patch of skin that can grow to be rough, crusty, painful, and/or itchy.
It’s important to note that this form of cancer can metastasize, or spread, to deeper tissues, bones, and neighboring lymph nodes. Once this occurs, squamous cell carcinoma can become difficult to treat. However, when caught early on, it has a positive curative outlook.
This disease accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses, yet it causes the majority of deaths related to skin cancer. Usually, melanoma develops in the melanocytes, which are the melanin-producing cells that color our skin. However, it can also develop in the eyes and, even more rarely, in one or more internal organs.
Although generally uncommon, certain populations of people are more at risk to develop melanoma, such as young female adults, older adult males, and African Americans. Melanoma risk also increases with age, making regular screening that much more important.
The Importance of Preventative Screening
For each of the three types of skin cancer, getting diagnosed as early as possible is the best way to ensure a good prognosis. And to catch it early, it’s important to get screened regularly. By performing visual examinations, patient histories, biopsies, and more, the Dermatology Associates team can determine the type of cancer you have and even its stage of development. To get screened for skin cancer or learn more about our skin cancer treatments, contact us today and schedule an appointment.