How Many Types of Skin Cancer are there?

There are three major skin cancer types. They are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is caused by your skin being overexposed to sun. The tumors usually take the form of small, shiny bumps. Waxy, hard skin growth can also be a warning sign of basal cell carcinoma. While this is the least deadly type of skin cancer, and it is unlikely to spread to other parts of your body, it is possible for it to cause disfigurement and even death if not treated early enough.

Squamous cell carcinoma is also caused by being exposed to too much UV radiation, and often takes the form of red scaly patches, open sores, or crusty warts. If these tumors are allowed to grow, they can become deadly, but is fairly easy to treat if caught early enough.

Melanoma is the most serious and the most deadly type of skin cancer. Most melanomas are black or brown, but they can be pink, red, purple, blue, or white. The best way to identify melanoma is to use the ABDE method. This means that any mole that displays asymmetry, uneven borders, a variety of colors, a large diameter, or seems to be evolving should be evaluated by our skin doctor in Encino.

What is Melanoma Skin Cancer?

DNA is often called “the building blocks of life” because it is essential to organic life. You might even say that it is organic life. Every person that has ever lived was made up of their particular strand of DNA, unique to them. So unique, in fact, that it is used in police work today in crime scene investigations. In its natural course, DNA replicates itself. In fact, it is necessary for life, as DNA strands are constantly dying and being replaced.

Melanoma skin cancer occurs when a skin cell is damaged by ultraviolet radiation, usually from sun exposure or tanning beds. The damage to the skin cell alters the DNA of it, which then replicates this poor structure over and over. As the process is repeated, the number of damaged cells begins to grow. The problem is that this poor DNA structure is not able to sustain life. In other words, you can die from it.

In fact, melanoma skin cancer is the deadliest form of skin cancer as it can spread to other parts of the body, replicating this damaged DNA everywhere. However, as our expert in treatment of melanoma cell skin cancer in Tarzana will tell you, it is actually highly treatable. The key is early detection.

Melanoma skin cancer often begins inside an existing mole, or it creates one. The emergence of new moles is important to have checked, as are any changes in color, size, or shape of existing ones. Our Tarzana skin doctor recommends annual visits to examine any skin abnormalities so that any possible melanoma skin cancer is caught early. Between visits, you should be doing monthly self-examinations of any moles.

Common Signs of Skin Cancer

All forms of skin cancer should be taken seriously, whether they are the type that spreads or not. The first line of defense against their disfiguring and even deadly effects is you. No one knows your skin better than you, since no one but you are inside your skin. You, a family member, or close friend are the most likely people to notice any changes to your skin, which can be an early indicator. Our dermatologist in Tarzana recommends that you closely examine your body monthly to catch early signs of skin cancer.

The particular symptoms to look for vary with the type of skin cancer, but your job is not know which kind it is, just that you might have one of the following abnormalities:

• Shiny flat areas
• Raised pearly bumps that are red, pink or translucent
• Rough, scaly areas
• Areas that easily bleed or ooze
• Sores that never seem to heal
• Areas that are regularly itchy or red, that swell, or cause pain
• A new mole that has developed or an existing one that has changed

Regarding moles, look for the following, often referred to as the ABCDE rule:

• Asymmetry: Healthy moles are almost always symmetrical
• Border: Healthy moles will have smooth borders; abnormal ones can be notched, jagged, irregular, or blurred
• Color: Healthy moles are evenly colored; abnormal ones may be different shades throughout or have an inconsistent patchwork of colors
• Diameter: Any moles larger than a pencil eraser should be checked
• Evolution: Any mole that changes in size, color, or shape

Examine all areas of the skin, but pay particular attention to places that receive the most sunlight, including the head, arms, hands, neck, ears, face, and shoulders.

If you experience any of these signs of skin cancer, contact us today to schedule an appointment to have it checked.