Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin’s outermost layer. Skin cancer is typically caused by overexposure to the sun and the use of tanning beds. Using broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen everyday and wearing protective clothing can help prevent skin cancer.
When skin cancer is caught early, it can usually be treated with little or no scarring and a good chance of eliminating it entirely. That’s why it’s so important to watch for suspicious changes in your skin and visit a board certified plastic surgeon for an annual skin exam. Regular examinations can help detect and prevent melanoma. Caught early enough, many skin irregularities can be treated before skin cancer develops.
The main types of skin cancer are listed below.
- Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) can be destructive if not detected and treated early, and can occasionally spread; in very rare instances BCCs can be fatal. BCC is the most common form of skin cancer and can be treated relatively easily when caught early enough.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCCs) can sometimes grow rapidly and spread if not caught and treated early. SCCs kill about 15,000 people in the US each year.
- Melanoma kills about 7,180 deaths in the US each year. It can be cured when caught and treated early enough.
- Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare (about 3,000 cases per year in the US), aggressive skin cancer usually appearing as firm, painless lesions or nodules, typically on the head and neck or eyelids. It’s most common in fair-skinned people over the age of 50. MCC is at a high risk of recurring and spreading throughout the body, making early detection and treatment crucial.
If you’ve never had a skin exam or it’s been more than a year — or if you notice any skin irregularities — schedule an appointment with us for diagnosis and removal, if appropriate, of any cancerous or precancerous growths.