Basal Cell carcinoma and Squamous Cell carcinoma are the 2 most common skin cancers.
The two most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). More than 1.3 million people per year are affected by skin cancers in the United States. Both of these cancers are caused primarily by long-term exposure to the sun. In general, SCCs are more threatening than BCCs and have a greater chance becoming life-threatening if untreated. Both BCCs and SCCs are easily treated when they are detected at an early stage. However, the larger a tumor grows, the more dangerous and potentially disfiguring it may become and the more extensive the treatment will need to be.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of cancer worldwide. In the vast majority of cases, it is thought to be caused by exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is becoming more common, perhaps because people may be spending more time outdoors. Some believe that the decrease in the ozone layer is allowing more ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the earth. Basal cell cancer does not usually metastasize or travel in the bloodstream; rather it infiltrates the surrounding area destroying tissue. For this reason, basal cell cancer should be treated promptly by a dermatologist with dermatologic surgical techniques.
Some BCC’s resemble non-cancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. The five most common characteristics of a BCC are a shiny discolored bump; an open sore that bleeds, oozes, ore remains open for 3 or more weeks; a scar-like area that is white, yellow or waxy with poorly defined borders; a pink growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and crusted indentation; and/or a reddish patch or irritated area that may crust, itch, or hurt.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common cancer of the skin. SCC is a tumor that arises in the outer layer of the skin (the epithelium). More than 250,000 new SCCs are diagnosed every year in the U.S. Middle-aged and elderly persons, especially those with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure, are most likely to be affected. If treated in a timely manner, it is uncommon for squamous cell carcinoma to spread to other areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinomas often arise from small sandpaper-like growths called solar or actinic keratoses. The rim of the ear and the lower lip are especially susceptible to SCC. SCCs usually appear as thick, rough, scaly patches that may bleed if bumped. They often look like warts or sores with a raised border and crusty surface. If you have a lesion with any of these characteristics, it is important to make an appointment with a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.
Melanoma is a potentially lethal form of skin cancer with a much higher fatality rate than basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. More than 80% of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. Melanoma is the sixth most common cancer in men and the seventh most common in women.
When melanoma is detected at its early stage, surgical removal cures the disease in most cases. If the disease has spread to lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 30-40%. If the disease has spread to distant organs (liver, bones, brain, etc.) the 5-year survival rate is 12%.
At Abrams Dermatology we specialize in detecting and treating skin cancers. We recommend an annual skin screening for everyone over 30 years of age, particularly those people who spend or have spent a lot of time in the Florida sun. Even teenagers with suspicious looking moles or lesions should come in for a skin examination. The most common locations for skin cancers that go undetected are the scalp, nose, ears, and area around the eyes. It is important to conduct self-screenings and to be aware of the danger signs of melanoma. Call today to schedule your annual skin examination as early detection significantly increases the probability of a cure.