There are three major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. One in three to five people are expected to develop at least one basal cell carcinoma during their lifetime. Basal cell carcinomas are characterized by translucent, pearly growths that may crust, ulcerate, or bleed. This type of skin cancer is usually not life-threatening, but it is destructive to the affected tissue and can therefore become disfiguring. Treatment can include topical chemical therapy, cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen, and excision.
- Squamous cell carcinomas are similar in appearance to basal cell carcinomas, but they are more aggressive. On rare occasions, this type of skin cancer can go internally, so people who have had squamous cell carcinomas are usually followed closely after treatment to insure that there is no evidence of persistence or recurrence. This type of skin cancer is usually treated with excision.
- Malignant melanoma is a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer that can arise from an existing mole or, more often, from normal skin. Warning signs for this particular type of skin cancer are pigmented lesions that are asymmetrical in shape; have irregular, scalloped, or jagged edges; are more than one color such as black, blue or brown; show unusual thickening; and dramatic growth (doubling or tripling in size in only a few months. Melanoma is almost 100% curable if it is diagnosed early.
Our providers recommend that the following types of lesions should be checked:
- Lesions that change from their original appearance
- Lesions that appear differently from your other moles
- Sores that have not healed within one or two months
- Any lesion that is worrisome to you in any way