Skin Cancer/Melanoma

There are three basic forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Anyone can be diagnosed with cancer at any age. Doctors link these forms of cancer to overexposure to the sun. Tanning booths can also increase your risk, as can exposure to radiation or high altitude.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of skin cancer. It appears as shiny bump or a flat, brown lesion resembling a scar. Squamous cell carcinoma often originates on the face, hands and ears. It can appear as red bump, or a flat, crusted lesion. Malignant melanoma is by far the deadliest form of skin cancer. This form of cancer generally begins within moles. Melanoma can also appear as a small lesion with an uneven border.

In situations where the cancer is relatively small, your doctor can surgically excise the cancerous flesh and then reconstruct the area. In more extreme cases, where the cancer is larger or has spread to other areas of the body, measures such as cryosurgery (where the cancer is frozen) or radiation therapy may be recommended. In addition, chemotherapy and Mohs surgery (in which the cancer is taken off in layers) has been successful in eradicating cancerous cells.

Because each type of skin cancer has a different look, effect and treatment, it is important to alert your physician if you notice unusual changes in the size and shape of spots, the coloration of your skin or the sensitivity and comfort of your body. Time is of the essence, and when caught early, many forms of skin cancer can be successfully treated.