Skin Cancer FAQ

Skin cancer is a very serious condition, usually caused by over exposure to the sun, characterized by mutation and multiplication of skin cells that can turn in to malignant tumors. This happens when the DNA, is not able to repair itself.  Spread of these cells can be deadly, particularly when they are spread to other parts of the body.

The most common type of skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, also known as BCC's. They typically show up as a reddened growth, rash, or even resemble an open sore. These usually arise from the deepest layer of the epidermis and can multiply rapidly in some cases. Intense bouts of sun exposure are the usual cause for this type of skin cancer.

BCC's can become a major problem if not treated promptly, and properly, and can even spread and cause death. They may also ruin the health and appearance of the skin. You should take any symptoms seriously, and get medical help if you suspect you may have them. re typically caused by exposure over time. Unlike the BCC's, they are found in many of the upper layers of the epidermis. They manifest in patchy red spots, wart like areas, or open sores that may crust or bleed. These also can be dangerous or disfiguring and should be checked out immediately upon notice.

Another type is squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, and these are typically caused by exposure over time. Unlike the BCC's, they are found in many of the upper layers of the epidermis. They manifest in patchy red spots, wart like areas, or open sores that may crust or bleed. These also can be dangerous or disfiguring and should be checked out immediately upon notice.

The most common places to find SCC's are parts of the body that are commonly exposed to the sun. It is important to be aware of changes in the skin that might alert you to this condition, such as pigmentation changed, loss of elasticity, or wrinkling.

The most deadly form of skin cancer, or melanomas, are also the hardest to recognize. Typically they appear as a mole. Mostly black or brown in color, but can also be pinkish or flesh tone. These reside in the basal layer of the epidermis and are typically the fastest spreading, as the cells quickly mutate to form malignant tumors.

Intense exposure to the sun or tanning beds typically causes this type of skin cancer, and it is a disease that is linked to heredity. While it is not as common as the other types, it is definitely the cause of the most skin cancer deaths, but if caught early is very treatable. The biggest danger is the spread to other parts of the body, which are very hard to treat. Almost 9,000 deaths a year are linked to melanomas.

The good news about these types of cancers are almost always curable when treated early enough. One of the most popular, and well respected surgery options has actually be around since the 1930's. The Moh's, developed by Dr. Frederick Moh's, consists of removing one thin layer of skin at a time and examining it to see if cancer cells are present. Surgery continues until a layer of skin comes off that contains no cancer cells.

This technique eliminates the need for guessing how much skin to remove, and can make it a lot easier to the patient to heal faster because more healthy tissue can be left alone. New techniques, using dyes to identify melanoma cells have made it even more successful for those types of cancers as well. For SCC's and BCC's, the cure rate is about 98%.

The climbing number of skin cancer cases in the US, will definitely secure a spot for the Moh's technique in our society.