Skin cancer is a condition where skin cells grow and multiply without control, and in a disorganized fashion; creating a “growth” or tumor. Since most skin cancers develop in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, a tumor is usually clearly visible. This makes most skin cancers detectable in the early stages, which is imperative to curing it.
There are three main types of skin cancer — Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma; and three cancers account for nearly 100% of all diagnosed cases. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell cancers are curable. Melanoma is also completely curable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Ciro Martins understands the importance of taking care of your skin and protecting it from the harmful effects of the sun. He is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers.
If you have concerns or questions about your skin, we invite you to call 410.296.0414 to schedule an appointment.
How to do a Skin Self-Exam
Types of Skin Cancers
Affecting more than 10 million Americans, Actinic Keratosis (AKs) are a common skin condition characterized by rough, red, scaly patches, crusts or sores on the skin’s surface. Taking decades to develop, they usually appear on the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, forearms, and back of the hands, which corresponds to the areas most commonly exposed to the sun. They are considered “pre-cancerous” because if left untreated, they can progress to a type of invasive skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, which can be fatal. If caught early, AKs are treatable.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer which develops in the deepest layer of the epidermis, also called the “basal layer. BCC very rarely, if ever spreads to other parts of the body, but it can cause significant local destruction and be disfiguring if not treated early. It is the most common form of cancer worldwide but luckily it is also the most benign behaving cancer known to man. In the vast majority of cases, it is thought to be caused by chronic exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is becoming more common, possibly because of the decrease in the ozone layer, which is allowing more ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the Earth’s surface.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC’s are also associated with chronic sun exposure in fair skinned individuals, but they can also develop in people with a weakened immune system, such as individuals who have undergone organ transplants and are being immunosuppressed. These skin cancers usually develop in areas most frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, arms and hands. SCC’s can appear in many different clinical forms, but are frequently seen as quickly growing, palpable, scaly, and sometimes scabby, thick spots on the skin. Sometimes they appear as a non-healing sore, and they can also resemble warts. SCC’s can metastasize, which means they can spread to other organs in the body, and approximately 7 cases per 1000 may be fatal. SCC’s are usually easily diagnosed by a dermatologist. If you have your skin checked annually, SCC’s can be detected and treated early on, before there is any risk of metastasis.
Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), also known as mycosis fungoides, is a rare type of skin cancer in which certain cells of the blood, called T-lymphocytes or T-cells, become cancerous (malignant) and invade the skin. Genetic predisposition is the main cause, but other agents such as long-term exposure to industrial or environmental metals, organic solvents, chemical carcinogens, pesticides and herbicides are also being investigated as possible causes.
Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocytes, which are the brown pigment-producing cells in our skin which determine the color of our skin. It represents the deadliest and most aggressive cancer known to man and even though it can be completely curable when detected early, it can also be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. When they become cancerous, they start multiplying out of control, spreading early on to other organs and to distant parts of the body. Melanoma can arise all of a sudden in normal-looking skin or it can arise from a pre-existing mole. The incidence of melanoma is increasing very fast and nearly 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths are from melanoma. Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun is the most important preventable cause of melanoma. Melanoma also has been linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 18 years of life. However, not all melanomas are sun related – other possible causes include genetic factors and immunologic deficiencies.
If you have concerns or questions about your skin, we invite you to call 410.296.0414 or CONTACT US online to schedule an appointment.
Belcara Health is proud to participate in the American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOTme Skin Cancer Screening Program. Dr. Martins and his team have conducted hundreds of free skincare screenings over the years in support of this very important program.
Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer
How to apply Sunscreen
Skin Cancers occur when normal skin cells undergo a malignant transformation, multiplying and growing in a disorganized manner. There are numerous different types of skin cancer, but most develop on the outermost layers of the skin, making them visible and detectable to the trained eye. Since many skin cancers develop rapidly and can be fatal, it is imperative to catch skin cancer early. This is most effectively achieved by getting regular body checks by an experienced dermatological professional.