Major Categories of Skin Cancer (BCC, SCC, Melanoma)
Skin cancer affects many people each year, and while there are common categories of skin cancer, the good news is that they can all be treated and sometimes even prevented with regular skin checks. At Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics in Fulton, MD, we encourage patients to be proactive about their health by scheduling regular skin checks to address suspicious moles or lesions.
The Major Categories of Skin Cancer
There are four specific cancer types that affect the skin: basil cell carcinoma, also known as BC; squamous cell carcinoma, also known as SCC; Actinic Keratosis, also known as AK; and melanoma. Some of these forms of cancer may be benign and others may be malignant.
It’s important that you regularly perform at-home skin checks as well as in-office skin checks to watch for these common types of skin cancer since many often appear as cancerous moles or pre-cancerous lesions. Checking your skin at home and scheduling an office skin check for cancer is the best way to ensure that you’re taking preventative steps to protect your body and treat any possible suspicious spots.
BCC: Basal Cell Carcinoma
BCC stands for basal cell carcinoma and is the most common type of cancer. Those with basal cell carcinoma may have a benign or malignant mass or cancerous lesions. BCC appears as flesh-colored, pearl-white bumps on the skin surface.
Basal cell carcinoma typically forms on areas of the skin that experience regular sun exposure, including the face, arms, neck, chest, head, and elsewhere. However, BCC is a common type of cancer and is easy to remove and treat.
SCC: Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of cancer that can also be malignant or malign. This type of cancer is most often caused by excess exposure to ultraviolet radiation that causes changes in the skin cells resulting in cancer. Squamous Cell Carcinoma typically appears as a flat, red patchy sore and can bleed or itch. If left untreated, it may spread to other body areas.
AK: Actinic Keratosis
Actinic Keratosis is the third most common type of cancer, and it’s important that you catch it quickly to avoid progression. AK can appear flat, raised, or rough spots on the skin, and those with actinic keratosis lesions are at an increased risk of those pre-cancerous cells turning into future cancer, so it’s essential to locate AK and treat it quickly.
Melanoma is the most well-known type of skin cancer but is also the most dangerous and aggressive. Melanoma appears on the skin as new lesions or moles or can develop from existing moles. It can form anywhere on the body, so regular body checks are important to avoid it.
How To Avoid or Treat Skin Cancer
The first step in avoiding skin cancer begins at home. Regular skin checks can help you identify irregular or suspicious lesions and moles on your body so that you can schedule an in-office skin check to have those areas evaluated by a professional. You can check your skin at home with a large mirror to increase visibility for those harder-to-see areas of the body. Thoroughly check your skin and then make a note of any suspicious moles or skin patches.
Scheduling In-Office Skin Checks
An in-office skin check is a simple preventative appointment that can give you peace of mind about suspicious moles or lesions or find out what the next steps are. During this appointment, we will evaluate any suspicious moles or skin patches that you’ve noticed while also checking for ones you may have missed on your body.
Skin checks are preventative for those who don’t have visible signs of skin cancer and those who have previously had skin cancer. During this appointment, we will evaluate your skin, including your scalp and the bottoms of your feet. We will look at any spots that have caused concern and areas that you may not have noticed that need further evaluation.
Checking for Cancerous Lesions
The purpose of a skin check is to ensure that your skin is healthy and cancer free. However, if you potentially have skin cancer, you’ll undergo a multi-step diagnosis process. The first step is locating the suspicious area at home, followed by a skin check. If we confirm that a suspicious skin patch may be cancerous, we will perform a small biopsy and take a sample of skin and send it to a lab for testing.
The lab will test the skin patch to determine whether it’s cancerous. If it is cancerous, we can create a treatment plan to treat the area. If it’s not cancerous, you still have the option to remove that patch of skin if it is bothersome or causes aesthetic concern.
Treating Cancerous Lesions
If your skin sample returns from the lab and is determined to be cancerous, we can move forward in designing a treatment plan to treat a lesion. There are many different treatment options that can address cancerous lesions, but ultimately the treatment process depends on the type of skin cancer and the stage. Possible treatment options include:
- Medicated creams or prescription medications
- Photodynamic therapy
- Mohs surgery
- Heritage and electrodesiccation
- Excision surgery
Who Is a Candidate for Skin Checks?
Everyone is a candidate for regular skin checks to help prevent or treat cancerous lesions, but some individuals are more prone to skin cancer than others. Adults over 30 with fair complexions or with a family history of skin cancer should prioritize regular skin checks as they are more likely to experience cancerous lesions. These regular skin checks are a form of preventative care and can help you detect skin cancer and treat it before the condition worsens.
Invest in Your Health
Scheduling regular skin checks are an investment in your current future health. If you’re uneasy about a patch of skin, more, or other suspicious-looking lesions, it’s important that you schedule a skin check to put your mind at ease and begin a treatment plan if necessary. Doing so will help you feel confident that you are investing in your health and taking part in one of the simplest forms of preventative care.