Skin cancer is the most common of all human cancers, with 1 million people in the U.S. ( approximately 75% of all cancer) diagnosed each year with some type of the disease. Skin cancer has been on the rise, although most cases can be prevented with skin protection to UV exposure. Skin cancer is about three times more common in men than in women, and the risk increases with age. View our skin test here to evaluate your skin type.
Types of Skin Cancer
The skin has many layers as seen in diagram. The basal and squamous cells are the regions we refer to in skin cancers. Skin cancers fall into two major categories that are melanoma and non-melanoma (most commonly basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas).
- Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cells carcinomas make up the majority of skin cancers. Even though they may be malignant, they generally do not spread throughout the body. They should still be treated early to avoid any disfigurement. Basal cell is the most common and generally the slowest growing Squamous cell is a little more aggressive and can spread.
- Melanomas are much less frequent occurring, but a highly aggressive cancer that will spread throughout the body. These cancers can also be fatal if not treated. Melanoma can start in heavily pigmented tissue, such as a mole or birthmark, as well as in normally pigmented skin. The most common locations are on extremities, chest, or back, although it can occasionally arise on the palm of the hand; on the sole of the foot; under a fingernail or toenail; in the mucus linings of the mouth, vagina, or anus; and even in the eye.
Typical Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Most signs and symptoms of the different types of skin cancer are primarily found on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun rays.
Basal cell carcinoma signs and symptoms
- Primarily found in the neck or face
- A pearly or waxy bump
- A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
Squamous cell carcinoma signs and symptoms
- Primarily found face, ears, and hands
- A firm, red nodule
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
Melanoma signs and symptoms
- A large brownish spot with darker speckles
- A mole that changes in color, size or feel or that bleeds
- A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue or blue-black
- Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus
Role of Radiation in Skin Cancer
Skin Brachytherapy is a safe and effective treatment option available at the Cancer Center for the non-melanoma skin cancers. It is a painless, non-surgical treatment option that can be done in 1-10 treatment sessions. Each session only takes about 5 minutes.
Below are examples of skin cancer before and after radiation treatment.