There are several different types of skin cancer; each presenting with unique symptoms.
Skin cancer refers to any cancer that starts in your skin. The two main types of skin cancer are melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. The latter has two main subtypes: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Because skin cancer is able to metastasize and spread to nearby tissue and organs as the disease advances, it’s important to perform regular skin cancer checks to increase your chances of early detection and successful treatment. If you think you may have skin cancer, you should see your dermatologist immediately. It’s also important to protect yourself year-round by avoiding UV exposure, seeking shade, using broad-spectrum sunscreen, and wearing sun-safe clothing, hats, and eyewear.
Every type of skin cancer presents with unique symptoms.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) are usually found on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to UV rays, including the face, neck, scalp, hands, shoulders, arms, and back. BCC can look like a persistent, non-healing sore, a reddish patch or irritated area, a pink growth, or a scar-like lesion. SCC can look like a wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds, a persistent red patch with irregular borders, an open sore that persists for weeks, or an elevated growth or growth that rapidly increases in size.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and appears most commonly on the back and legs, but can appear anywhere on the skin’s surface, as well as the mouth, eyes, and areas that aren’t typically exposed to the sun. Melanoma can develop from a pre-existing mole that appears normal but then changes, or can appear as a new irregular-looking spot on the skin.
In order to clarify a skin cancer diagnosis, we may perform a punch biopsy, an in-office procedure in which a small, tube-shaped piece of skin is removed using a sharp cutting tool and subsequently examined under a microscope.
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