Skin Cancer

Medical Dermatology


Skin cancer is caused when skill cells start growing abnormally and lead to cancerous growths. Most of the time, skin cancer develops in the epidermis (the visible outer layer of the skin) in areas that are most exposed to the sun, like the face, hands, arms, and legs. Skin cancer triggers mutations or genetic defects. Skin cancer is usually easy to detect with a frequent examination of the skin. There are many different types of skin cancer, and treatment is based on the type of cancer and severity of an individual’s condition.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. More than four million are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Basal cell carcinoma is typically diagnosed in areas of the face, scalp, neck, hands, and other body parts which are frequently exposed to the sun. When caught early, basal cell carcinoma is easily treated. Treatment can include excision, electrodestruction and curettage or Mohs Micrographic surgery. After a numbing agent is injected, the affected area is removed. Your doctor will tell you which of the three subtypes of basal cell carcinoma is present and to what degree. They are listed below.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Also called SCC, Squamous cell carcinoma comes from the skin cells that make up the top layers of skin. SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than one million cases of SCC are diagnosed each year. SCC lesions often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths, or warts. Main causes of Squamous Cell Carcinoma include cumulative ultraviolet exposure, daily year-round exposure to UV, excessive sun exposure in the summer months, and UV produced by tanning beds. Areas of skin that are at high risk of SCC normally have showing signs of sun damage, like wrinkles, pigment changes, and freckles.

Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma comes from skin cells called melanocytes, which create melanin, the pigment that gives skin color. Melanoma is the third most common form of skin cancer. Melanoma is very dangerous and the leading cause of death from skin cancer. One person dies from Melanoma every 54 minutes. If melanoma is detected early, it is normally curable; however, if left undetected, melanoma can be very difficult to treat. Sun exposure, moles, skin type, personal history, and an individual’s immune system are all factors that increase your risk of melanoma.


There are many different treatments available for skin cancers. Treatments can be divided into sub categories: medications and procedures. There are many medications for skin cancers that can be injected or taken orally as well as topical gels and creams for affected areas. Many different medications are on the market for skin cancer and a patient may have to try various medications to find the right fit. Procedures for skin cancer include surgeries, laser and light-based treatments, and radiation therapy. Each treatment will depend on the type and severity of skin cancer. If you suspect you may have any type of skin cancer, contact a dermatologist immediately for testing.