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Skin cancer

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From MayoClinic.com

Skin cancer - the abnormal growth of skin cells - is the most common form of cancer diagnosed.

The three major types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell are the two most common and comprise the large majority of cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Both are superficial, slow growing and highly treatable, especially if found early. Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer. It affects deeper layers of the skin and has the greatest potential to spread to other tissues in your body.

All three types of skin cancer are on the rise. Fair-skinned people who live in areas that get a lot of sunshine are at greatest risk. But anyone can develop skin cancer, which is most commonly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable by limiting or avoiding exposure to UV radiation and by detecting changes in your skin at an early stage. If caught early, most skin cancers are highly treatable. For these reasons, it's important to protect your skin from the sun and to check your skin regularly for signs of skin cancer.

There's a growing body of evidence to suggest that sunburns at a young age lead to heightened risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Establish sunscreen- use routines before going outside. Support health education activities needed to promote skin cancer prevention. Get skin cancer prevention information to parents. Develop a plan for allocating resources for all of the above.

Signs and symptoms

A change on your skin is the most common warning sign of skin cancer. Skin cancer may appear as a small growth or as a sore that bleeds, crusts over, heals and then reopens. The first sign of melanoma may be a change in an existing mole or the development of a new, suspicious-looking mole.

Skin cancer develops mainly on areas of skin exposed to a lot of sun, including your scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But skin cancer can also develop on unexposed areas, such as your palms, the spaces between toes and your genital area. A cancerous skin lesion can appear suddenly, or it can develop slowly.

Although skin cancers don't all look the same, they all involve a change in the skin's appearance in a localized area. If you notice any suspicious change in your skin, consult your doctor right away. As with most cancers, early detection increases the chances of successful treatment. Don't wait for the area to start hurting — skin cancer seldom causes pain.

The signs and symptoms of the three most common types of skin cancer are as follows:

  • Basal cell cancer

  • A pearly or waxy bump on your face, ears or neck

  •  A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion on your chest or back

  • Squamous cell cancer

  • A firm, red nodule on your face, lips, ears, neck, hands or arms

  • A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface on your face, ears, neck, hands or arms

  • Melanoma

  • A large brownish spot with darker speckles, anywhere on your body

  • A simple mole anywhere on your body that changes in color or size or consistency or that bleeds

  • A small lesion with an irregular border and red, white, blue or blue-black spots on your trunk or limbs

  • Shiny, firm, dome-shaped bumps anywhere on your body

  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips and toes, or on mucous membranes — skin that lines your mouth, nose, vagina and anus

There are other, less common types of skin cancer. One example is Kaposi's sarcoma, which develops in the blood vessels of your skin. This rare form of skin cancer results in red or purple patches on your skin or on mucous membranes. Like melanoma, it's a serious form of skin cancer. It's mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS or those who've undergone an organ transplant and are taking medications that suppress their immunity. Skin cancer also can develop in any of the other structures of your skin such as the sweat glands, the oil (sebaceous) glands, the erector muscles and the nerves in your skin.

Precancerous skin lesions, such as an actinic keratosis, also can develop into skin cancer. Actinic keratoses appear as rough, scaly, brown-to-dark-pink patches. They're most commonly found on your face, ears, lower arms and hands of fair-skinned people whose skin has been damaged by the sun.

Not all changes in your skin are skin cancer. The only way to get a definitive diagnosis is to see your doctor or dermatologist and have your skin examined.


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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The Integrated Medical Clinic be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.



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