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Skin Cancers

Skin cancers most commonly affect older fair-skinned adults, but they can also affect other populations. Most skin cancers are diagnosed by dermatologists with a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. After that, most skin cancers can be cured by minor skin surgery at an outpatient clinic, such as ours. However, in rare cases, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma may metastasize and require extensive treatment. If this happens, you may need a referral to an academic hospital.

Surgeon Operating with Magnifying Surgical Loupes

Signs of Possible Skin Cancers

Skin growths with the following features should be assessed to rule out skin cancer. Always take a photo of any suspicious lesions immediately with a ruler in the photo frame. Bring the photo with you to your visit so that we can determine if it is progressing at a concerning pace.

Features of skin cancer may include, but are not limited to:

  • A new growth on the skin that looks different from your other skin lesions

  • A mole or freckle that is quickly changing in size, shape, or color pattern.

  • A spot or sore that does not heal within 6-8 weeks.

  • A spot that spontaneous pains, itches, or bleeds.

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Common Skin Cancers & Pre-cancer

Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratoses are very common on chronically sun-exposed skin, such as the face, ears, scalp, and distal limbs. They are considered to be pre-cancerous and may develop into squamous cell carcinomas if not treated in a timely fashion.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is the most common type of skin cancer, often found on sun-exposed skin. Although rarely life-threatening, if left untreated, BCCs can gradually erode into adjacent soft tissues and bones, and in extremely rare cases, metastasize to local lymph nodes. It is important to diagnose and treat BCCs in a timely manner to prevent further damage to the affected area.

Melanoma (MM)

Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma, also referred to as malignant melanoma, is a dangerous skin cancer caused by uncontrolled growth of melanocytes (pigment cells). However, if caught early, 90% of melanomas can be cured with simple outpatient skin surgery alone.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most common type of skin cancer and is typically found on sun-damaged skin. Although most SCCs of the skin can be cured by surgical removal, some larger or high-risk SCCs may metastasize to lymph nodes, bones, internal organs, and even the brain. Therefore, early detection and treatment are crucial for a positive outcome. 

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