Skin cancer, the abnormal growth of skin cells, most often develops on skin exposed to the sun including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and the legs in women. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight like your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the best chance for successful skin cancer treatment.
Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your neck or face.
Basal cell carcinoma may appear as:
- A pearly or waxy bump
- A flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
Most often, squamous cell carcinoma occurs on sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your face, ears, and hands. People with darker skin are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma on areas that aren’t often exposed to the sun.
Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:
- A firm, red nodule
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body, in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that becomes cancerous. Melanoma most often appears on the face or the trunk of affected men. In women, this type of cancer most often develops on the lower legs. In both men and women, melanoma can occur on skin that hasn’t been exposed to the sun.
Melanoma can affect people of any skin tone. In people with darker skin tones, melanoma tends to occur on the palms or soles, or under the fingernails or toenails.
Melanoma signs include:
- 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
If you notice an irregular spot on your skin, make an appointment right away.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
The good news is, skin cancer is highly treatable in the early stages. And new medical discoveries mean even some of the more resistant types are becoming more treatable than ever. Dr. Storey will recommend the best treatment option for you.
|Treatment Option||How it Works|
|Mohs Surgery||Mohs surgery involves removing the visible skin cancer and layers of adjacent skin and soft tissue to facilitate microscopic examination of the excised tissue. Meticulous maps are created to follow tumor extensions, and excisions are sequentially continued until no cancer cells are evident upon microscopic examination. The surgical wound is then repaired, or allowed to heal by secondary intention to preserve as much form and function as possible. Mohs micrographic surgery – developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic Mohs – offers the highest cure rates in the treatment of basal cell and squamous cell cancers of the skin. Learn more.|
|Laser Surgery||Cancerous growths are removed by vaporizing the top layers of skin with a laser. This technique is used for superficial basal and squamous cell skin cancers as well as pre-cancerous conditions.|
|Photodynamic Therapy for Premalignant Growths||Photodynamic therapy treats premalignant growths by using special drugs called photosensitizing agents, along with light, to kill pre-cancerous cells. The drugs only work after being activated by certain wavelengths of light. The process also is known as PDT, photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, and photochemotherapy.|
|Cryotherapy||Cryotherapy refers to a treatment in which surface skin lesions are frozen. The most common cryogen is liquid nitrogen. It is used to kill unwanted skin such as warts, precancerous lesions, or benign growths such as skin tags.|
|Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C)||Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C) is a surgical procedure used to remove certain skin lesions such as warts, angiomas, actinic keratosis, basal cell skin cancers, and squamous cell skin cancers. After a local anesthetic is placed, the surgeon removes the abnormal cells by scraping down to a layer of uninvolved tissue. Finally, desiccation (electrosurgery) is performed with a small, metal instrument used to widen the margin and cauterize the wound to minimize bleeding. The wound is left to heal without sutures and typically heals over several weeks.|
|Topical Prescription Medications||In topical treatments for skin cancer, a prescribed cancer-fighting medication is applied to the skin in the form of an ointment, lotion or cream. Traditional chemotherapy medications administered orally or intravenously infrequently are used in the management of skin cancers.|