Skin Cancer and Melanoma Care at Via Christi Health


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Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. If left unchecked, these cancer cells can spread from the skin into other tissues and organs. There are different types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common. Melanoma is less common, but more aggressive and dangerous.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
The outer layer of skin is made up of different types of cells. Skin cancers are classified by the types of epidermal cells involved:

  • Basal cell carcinoma develops from abnormal growth of the cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis and is the most common type of skin cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is found in the upper layers of the skin
  • Melanoma occurs in the melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) and is less common than squamous or basal cell carcinoma, but more dangerous. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the Unites States, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Known risk factors for skin cancer include the following:

  • Complexion: Skin cancers are more common in people with light-colored skin, hair, and eyes. However, all skin types are at risk
  • Genetics: Having a family history of melanoma increases the risk of developing this cancer
  • Age: Nonmelanoma skin cancers are more common after age 40
  • Sun exposure and sunburn: Most skin cancers occur on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation. This is considered the primary cause of all skin cancers

Symptoms:
Skin cancers may have many different appearances. They can be small, shiny, waxy, scaly and rough, firm and red, crusty or bleeding, or have other features. Therefore, anything suspicious should be looked at by a physician.
Here are some features to look for:

  • Asymmetry: one half of the abnormal skin area is different than the other half
  • Borders: irregular borders
  • Color: varies from one area to another with shades of tan, brown, or black (sometimes white, red, blue)
  • Diameter: usually (but not always) larger than 6 mm in size (diameter of a pencil eraser)
  • Any skin growth that bleeds easily or will not heal

 

 

Related Content


 Cancer Institute

 National Comprehensive Cancer Network

 Cancer Resources Center

 Community Support
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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