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How to Identify Different Types of Skin Cancer (With Pictures)

  • The American Academy of Dermatology

    Basal Cell Carcinoma: The Facts

    Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common and least aggressive type of skin cancer. Over 2 million Americans will get BCC this year. Daily, unprotected exposure to UV light is the biggest risk factor for all skin types. The head and neck have the highest likelihood of being affected by BCC, although it can occur on any sun exposed area including the chest, back, arms or legs. Luckily BCC rarely metastasizes, however if left untreated it can spread to the surrounding skin creating extreme cosmetic disruption, and even invade muscle or bone.

  • The Skin Cancer Foundation

    Basal Cell Carcinoma: How to Identify and Treat It

    How to identify basal cell carcinoma : Basal cell carcinomas are traditionally described as a small pearly papule (previous slide). They can also look like a little pink patch, a whitish scar (current slide), a non-healing lesion that bleeds or feels sore, or even a brown, slightly translucent bump.

    Basal cell carcinoma treatment: For lesions that are caught early, your doctor may recommend a cream called imiquimod (this stimulates your immune system to get rid of the cancer), photodynamic therapy (PDT), a treatment that uses topical gel that when exposed to a laser or blue light kills the malignant cells, Electrodessication and curretage (EDC), where the cancer is scraped off and cauterized with an electric needle, or a simple surgical removal under local anestheia. "For BCC's that are large (more than 2 cm), recurrent, or on the head/neck, Mohs Micrographic surgery is the treatment of choice with the highest cure rate,' says Dr. Anthony Rossi, M.D., a dermatologic surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. With MOHS, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. "For large BCCs that cannot be surgically removed, there is now also a pill that can be taken to destroy the tumor," adds Rossi.

  • The American Academy of Dermatology

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The Facts

    Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer in Caucasians, Hispanics, and Japanese and Chinese Asians, and the most common skin cancer in African Americans and Indians. About 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed in the US each year, causing up to 8000 deaths. Daily unprotected exposure to UV light is the biggest risk factor for those with lighter skin. In brown skin, SCC is most likely to develop in sites of previous trauma, scars, burns, or radiation. The head, ears, scalp, lips, and hands have the highest likelihood of being affected by SCC caused by the sun (although it can occur anywhere), while the legs and genital skin are the most common locations in darker complections. Other risk factors for SCC include human papilloma virus, vitiligo, and immunosuppression, as may be seen with organ transplant recipients or those with HIV. SCC metastasizes at a rate of 2 to 4 percent in Caucasians, and 30 percent in African Americans (the difference is most likely due to later detection or more aggressive tumors).

  • The Skin Cancer Foundation

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma: How to Identify and Treat It

    How to identify squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinomas can look like red or pink scaly patches, a warty growth, a flesh colored bump with a harder center, or any lesion the bleeds, ulcerates and hurts. Actinic keratosis (a precancerous spot that feels like a gritty bump on the sun exposed skin) can develop into SCC 10 percent of the time.

    Squamous cell carcinoma treatment: For lesions that are caught early, your dermatologist may recommend a topical chemotherapeutic cream, EDC, or a simple surgical removal under local anesthesia, says Rossi. For SCC's that are large (more than 2 cm), recurrent, or on the head/neck, Mohs Micrographic surgery is the treatment of choice with the highest cure rate.

  • The Skin Cancer Foundation

    Melanoma: The Facts

    Melanoma is the third most common and most aggressive skin cancer in all races. The rate of melanoma has increased by 800 percent among women ages 18 to 39 over the past 40 years, largely due to unprotected exposure to UV light and the use of tanning booths. In fact, just one blistering sunburn doubles your lifetime risk of melanoma, and only one tanning bed session increases the risk by 75 percent. Other risk factors include having a lot of moles on your body, light eyes/hair, and a family history of melanoma. One person dies from melanoma each hour. As is the case with BCC and SCC, if melanomas are detected early they are usually curable. If not, the risk of metastasis and death is high.

    The legs and trunk are the most common place for melanoma in Caucasian, Asian and light-skinned Hispanic women. In African American women and Indians it mainly occurs under the fingernails/toenails, in the mouth or on genital skin.

  • The American Academy of Dermatology

    Melanoma: How to Idenfiy and Treat It

    How to identify melanoma: Melanoma can be brown, black, purple, pink, red, flesh toned, flat or raised. It can look like a line under the nail, and can occur in sun protected areas. In general, it's a good idea to get any spot that is assymetric, irregularly bordered / colored, or growing in diameter checked out (the a, b, c, d's of melanoma). Dysplastic moles fall in the category of precancerous, meaning they aren't normal, but they have not evolved into melanoma.

    Melanoma treatment: For lesions that are caught early, surgery is the cure. Otherwise, chemotherapy or immunotherapy (medicines that stimulate the immune system to target the melanoma) may be necessary, too.