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Skin Cancer

The human body’s largest organ, the skin, keeps us safe from the elements, infection and more. It is composed of layers, the main ones being the epidermis, which is the outer layer, and the dermis, which is the lower layer. Skin cancer begins in cells located in the epidermis, including squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes. Non-melanoma skin cancer occurs due to unrepaired DNA in skin cells and is most often caused by ultraviolet radiation either from the sun or from tanning beds. Basal cell carcinomas are the most frequently occurring of all cancers. Today, it is so prevalent, that in their lifetime, about one in five people are likely to get non-melanoma skin cancer. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma, which occurs in the pigment producing cells. If treated early, it is almost always curable. However, advanced cases can spread to other parts of the body, making it harder to treat and potentially fatal.

Common Symptoms of the Disease

The most common places for non-melanoma skin cancer to develop are the areas that receive the most sun exposure, like the face, lips, ears, chest, scalp, neck, arms, hands and legs, though it can be found in less exposed areas, as well. Contrary to popular belief, skin cancer doesn’t just affect people with light skin tone, but also those with darker complexions. The appearance of these cancers varies according to the type of cells they affect.

Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma:

  • Scabbing or bleeding sore that doesn’t heal or heals and returns
  • Pearly or waxy bump
  • Flat, brown or flesh-colored scar-like lesion
  • Raised reddish patches which can be itchy

Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Firm, red nodule
  • Flat reddish or brownish lesion with scaly, crusty surface
  • Open sore that doesn’t heal or heals and returns
  • Wart-like growths

Symptoms of melanoma:
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body. Women tend to have occurrences on their lower legs. On men, it’s often found on the face or trunk. Symptoms include:

  • Mole that changes size, color or feel, or bleeds
  • Large brownish spot with darker speckles
  • Small lesion with irregular borders and portions that appear blue, black, white, pink or red
  • Painful, burning or itchy lesion
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus

Treatment Options

There are many different treatments for skin cancer, depending on the type of cancer and the size, depth and location of the lesions. Treatment options include: freezing or cryosurgery, excisional surgery, Mohs surgery, cryotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy and biological therapy. Sometimes surgery alone is an adequate treatment, but if there is a risk of the cancer spreading, additional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation may be used in combination with surgery.

Previous Page Last Review Date: April 30, 2020
Skin Cancer Team
Rodrigo Arrangoiz, MD, MS, FACS

Rodrigo Arrangoiz, MD, MS, FACS

Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016
Adrian Legaspi, MD, FACS

Adrian Legaspi, MD, FACS

Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016
Amit Vinay Sastry, MD

Amit Vinay Sastry, MD

Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016
Vanitha Vasudevan, MD, FACS

Vanitha Vasudevan, MD, FACS

General Surgery, Oncology Surgery
Hialeah 33016