Four Skin Cancer Types That You Need to Know About
Scheduling regular skin cancer screenings is crucial to your long-term health and happiness. Through early detection, we can help you prevent this surprisingly common scourge – around 20% of Americans will develop some form of skin cancer at one point in their lives, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Being proactive is especially important if you have a family history of skin cancer, as heredity is a significant factor.
We devote the utmost care and attention to our screenings because we know how vital it is to thoroughly check for, and plan against, this all-too-prevalent disease. We recommend getting in touch with us as soon as possible to schedule a comprehensive consultation with our expert team of board-certified dermatologists in League City or Webster, TX. So, contact us at Clear Lake Dermatology today to protect your current and future health.
Let's explore four types of skin cancer that you should know about.
Actinic Keratosis (AK)
Actinic Keratosis (AK) is the most frequently occurring pre-cancer and affects 58 million Americans. Actinic refers to something caused by light, be it visible light or invisible ultraviolet light. And a keratosis is a growth on the skin or mucus membranes that's made of keratin, the same tough protein that composes our hair, skin, and nails.
Per its name, AK is caused by chronic sun exposure, as the constant bombardment of ultraviolet radiation alters the DNA. Due to its long-term, accumulative nature, it's likelier to afflict individuals over the age of 40.
The number of actinic keratoses (or lesions) depends on factors like sun exposure and age. Each keratosis can appear as a dry, scaly, or crusty spot or patch that's rough to the touch. This condition is deemed pre-cancerous because it can turn into squamous cell carcinoma. But this can be avoided with timely detection and removal.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is more common than any type of cancer and the most often occurring form of skin cancer, with an estimated 3.6 million diagnoses in the U.S. each year. However, this disease advances slowly. And while it has a chance to spread to the nerves or bones if left untreated, it's curable and proper treatment can ensure that it causes minimal damage if caught early.
Basal cells are the bottom layer of the epithelium. It's this "basement" level of the skin where cells divide to take the place of old, damaged cells at the surface. Then, the basal cells slowly move up through the skin, flattening and turning into squamous cells (discussed shortly).
BCC can appear anywhere on the body. It looks like flesh-colored or pearl-shaped bulges, possibly with rolled edges or an indentation in the center. BCC may also take the form of white waxy lumps, pink growths, shiny bumps, red patches, or open sores.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most prevalent form of skin cancer. The term "squamous" refers to the flattened cells of the epithelium, or the constantly regenerating surface cells of your skin. SCC is also sometimes called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma to denote that it arises from the skin, rather than the squamous cells lining some interior parts of the body, like the mouth and throat.
SCC occurs when ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes damage to the DNA and creates a proliferation of abnormal cells. SCC manifests as warts, sores, or scaly red patches or bumps which may itch or bleed. At Clear Lake Dermatology, we carefully remove these patches or abnormalities to limit their spread and reduce the potential for scarring.
Melanoma, though it's a rarer form that only accounts for 1% of skin cancer cases overall, is the most lethal and causes the most skin cancer-related deaths. Therefore, quick detection and treatment are necessary. It's diagnosed via the ABCDE method, which assesses five different criteria to differentiate it from regular, noncancerous moles.
Asymmetry: Melanoma is asymmetrical, or not evenly or uniformly shaped
Border: The borders are irregular and not clearly defined.
Color: Unlike moles, melanoma growths can be multiple colors or shades
Diameter: A melanoma is about 6mm in diameter or the size of a pencil eraser
Evolution: Moles do not change their appearance, but melanomas evolve in size, color, or shape
Help guard your future health by scheduling a screening in League City or Webster, TX today
Thinking about cancer is obviously unpleasant and something people generally avoid. But regular screenings are absolutely crucial, as detecting this disease in time opens multiple avenues of treatment and the best short-and-long-term outcome.
We know you value your health above all else, and we feel the same way. We take pride in our comprehensive, caring approach, and screening and treatment methods. So don't put it off: for peace of mind and your optimal future health, schedule a consultation today with our board-certified dermatologists. We also warmly welcome you to visit our Clear Lake Dermatology practices in League City or Webster, TX.