Skin Cancer Treatment | Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment | Garden City

 

 
     
 

Skin Cancer

Repeated exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, can cause a variety of cosmetic and medical problems in our skin. These include telangiectasia (red or purple “spider veins”), uneven pigmentation, lines and wrinkles, thinning of skin, loss of skin elasticity, and melanoma and other skin cancers. The damage our skin suffers from sunlight is cumulative and often gradual, so the effects appear as we age and worsen with time.

 

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of cancer, with about a million new cases estimated in the U.S. each year. Basal cells line the deepest layer of the epidermis. Basal cell carcinomas are malignant growths--tumors--that arise in this layer.

Basal cell carcinoma can usually be diagnosed with a simple biopsy and is fairly easy to treat when detected early. However, 5 to 10 percent of BCCs can be resistant to treatment or locally aggressive, damaging the skin around them, and sometimes invading bone and cartilage. When not treated quickly, they can be difficult to eliminate. Fortunately, however, this is a cancer that has an extremely low rate of metastasis, and although it can result in scars and disfigurement, it is not usually life threatening.

Cause

The sun is responsible for over 90 percent of all skin cancers, including BCCs, which occur most frequently on the sun-exposed areas of the body: face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders and back.

Am I At Risk?

Anyone with a history of frequent or intermittently intense sun exposure can develop BCC, but a number of factors increase risk:

  • Time Spent Outdoors People who work outdoors — construction workers, groundskeepers, lifeguards, etc. – are at greater risk than people who work indoors, as are those who spend their leisure hours in the sun.
  • Skin Type Fair-skinned individuals who sunburn easily and tan minimally or not at all have a higher incidence of skin cancer than dark-skinned individuals.Check our skin type chart to see how at risk you are.
  • Hours of sunlight The more hours of sunlight in the day, the greater the incidence of skin cancer. For example, there are more cases in Arizona, Texas and Florida – states that are closer to the equator and get more sun – than in the more northern states of Maine, Oregon and Washington.

Warning Signs

The five most typical characteristics of basal cell carcinoma are shown in the pictures below. Frequently, two or more features are present in one tumor. In addition, BCC sometimes resembles noncancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Only a trained physician can decide for sure. If you observe any of the warning signs or some other change in your skin, consult your physician immediately.

open1.jpg  An Open Sore that bleeds, oozes or crusts and remains open for a few weeks. A persistent, non-healing sore is a very common sign of an early basal cell carcinoma.
  A Reddish Patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the chest, shoulders, arms or legs. Sometimes the patch crusts. It may also itch or hurt. At other times, it persists with no noticeable discomfort.
 Skin Cancer Treatment | Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment | Garden City A Shiny Bump or nodule that is pearly or translucent and is often pink, red or white. The bump can also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and can be confused with a mole.
 Skin Cancer Treatment | Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment | Garden City A Pink Growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface.
 Skin Cancer Treatment | Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment | Garden City A Scar-Like Area which is white, yellow or waxy, and often has poorly defined borders. The skin itself appears shiny and taut. This warning sign can indicate the presence of small roots, which make the tumor larger than it appears

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  • What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

    Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer, with over 250,000 new cases per year estimated in the United States. It arises in the squamous cells that compose most of the upper layer of the skin.

    Most SCCs are not serious. When identified early and treated promptly, the future is bright. However, if overlooked, they are harder to treat and can cause disfigurement. While 96 to 97 percent of SCCs are localized, the small percentage of remaining cases can spread to distant organs and become life-threatening.

    Cause

    Most cases of squamous cell carcinoma are caused by chronic overexposure to the sun. Tumors appear most frequently on the sun-exposed face, neck, bald scalp, hands, shoulders, arms and back. The rim of the ear and the lower lip are especially vulnerable to these cancers.

    SCCs may also occur where skin has suffered certain kinds of injury: burns, scars, long-standing sores, sites previously exposed to X-rays or certain chemicals (such as arsenic and petroleum by-products). In addition, chronic skin inflammation or medical conditions that suppress the immune system over an extended period of time may encourage development of the disease.

    Occasionally, squamous cell carcinoma arises spontaneously on what appears to be normal, healthy, undamaged skin. Some researchers believe that a tendency to develop this cancer may be inherited.

    Am I at Risk?

    Anyone with a substantial history of sun exposure can develop squamous cell carcinoma but certain environmental and genetic factors can increase the potential for this disease.

  • Sun Exposure: Sunlight is responsible for over 90 percent of all skin cancers. Working primarily outdoors, living in an area that gets a lot of high intensity sunlight (like Australia), and spending time in tanning booths all increase your exposure to UV rays and thus increase your risk for developing skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Skin Type: People who have fair skin, light hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes are at highest risk. Hispanics, Asians and dark-skinned individuals of African descent are far less likely than Caucasians to develop skin cancer. Check out your skin type and how it affects your skin cancer risk.
  • More than two thirds of the skin cancers that dark-skinned individuals develop are SCCs, usually arising on the sites of preexisting inflammatory skin conditions or burn injuries. It is still essential for them to practice sun protection.
  • Previous Skin Cancer: Anyone who has had a skin cancer of any type is at increased risk of developing another one.
  • Reduced Immunity: People with weakened immune systems due to excessive unprotected sun exposure, chemotherapy, or illnesses such as HIV/AIDS are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

What to Look For

Squamous cell tumors are thick, rough, horny and shallow when they develop. Occasionally, they will ulcerate, which means that the epidermis above the cancer is not intact. There will be a raised border and a crusted surface over a raised, pebbly, granular base. See photos below for examples.

Any bump or open sore in areas of chronic inflammatory skin lesions indicates the possibility of squamous cell carcinoma, and a doctor should be consulted immediately if this is the case. Usually, the skin in these areas reveals telltale signs of sun damage, such as wrinkling, changes in pigmentation and loss of elasticity. That is why tumors appear most frequently on sun-exposed parts of the body.

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What Is Melanoma?

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. However, if it is recognized and treated early, it is nearly 100 percent curable. But if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While it is not the most common of the skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007, there will be 8,110 fatalities, 5,220 in men and 2,800 in women in the U.S. The number of new cases of melanoma is estimated at 59,940; of these, 33,910 will be in men and 26,030 in women.

Melanoma is a malignant tumor that originates in melanocytes, the cells which produce the pigment melanin that colors our skin, hair, and eyes. The majority of melanomas are black or brown. However, some melanomas are skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white.

Am I at Risk?

Everyone is at some risk for melanoma, but increased risk depends on several factors: sun exposure, number of moles on the skin, skin type and family history (genetics).

  • Sun exposure Both UVA and UVB rays are dangerous to the skin, and can induce skin cancer, including melanoma. Blistering sunburns in early childhood increase risk, but cumulative exposure also is a factor. People who live in locations that get more sunlight — like Florida, Hawaii, and Australia — get more skin cancer. Avoid using a tanning booth or tanning bed, since it increases your exposure to UV rays, increasing your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.
  • Moles There are two kinds of moles: normal moles — the small brown blemishes, growths, or "beauty marks" that appear in the first few decades of life in almost everyone — and atypical moles, also known as dysplastic nevi. Regardless of type, the more moles you have, the greater your risk for melanoma.
  • Skin Type As with all skin cancers, people with fairer skin are at increased risk. You can read more about skin type and risk here.
  • Family History About one in every ten patients diagnosed with the disease has a family member with a history of melanoma. If your mother, father, siblings or children have had a melanoma, you are in a melanoma-prone family. Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 percent greater chance of developing the disease than people who do not have a family history. If the cancer occurred in a grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, there is still an increase in risk, although it is not as great. Read more on family history, below.
  • Personal History Once you have had melanoma, you run an increased chance of recurrence. Also, people who have or had basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are at increased risk for developing melanoma.

Weakened Immune System

Compromised immune systems as the result of chemotherapy, an organ transplant, excessive sun exposure, and diseases such as HIV/AIDS or lymphoma can increase your risk of melanoma.

 

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