Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the abnormal and rapid growth of skin cells. Skin cancer can be categorized into three main types:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. BCC occurs in the outermost layer of your skin and will often cause skin cancer symptoms such as open sores, red patches, shiny bumps or scars. It rarely metastasizes (spreads) past the original tumor site. However, it is still malignant and if you suspect you may have BCC, you should still see your health care provider. Sources report that up to three million cases are diagnosed each year.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) occurs when abnormal cells start to grow uncontrollably in the upper layers of the skin. SCC skin cancer symptoms include open sores, scaly red patches and the characteristic elevated growth with a central hole — in fact, SCC is also referred to as the “rat-bite” tumor because of this distinctive appearance. SCC can also bleed or crust and can lead to death if allowed to grow. More than one million cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and about  8,800 people die from it each year.

Melanoma is not the most common skin cancer, but it is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “These cancerous growths develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells…triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.” Melanoma kills over 10,000 people in the U.S. annually.

Melanoma skin cancer symptoms are bumps or patches that resemble moles and are usually black or brown. They can also be blue, pink, red, white or even skin-colored. If recognized and treated early, melanoma can be curable. If not, it can advance and metastasize to other areas of the body, making it harder to treat and potentially fatal.