Skin cancer occurs when skin cells grow out of control and form malignant tumors. It is usually the result of DNA damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds, but genetic defects also can trigger skin cancer to develop.
Skin Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)
- Squamous cell skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma)
Each type develops differently and requires a different treatment approach. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.
- An unusual skin growth, sore or rash that doesn't go away
- The appearance of a waxy translucent bump
- A skin bump or mole that itches, bleeds, oozes or becomes crusty
- A reddish, scaly patch of skin
- An irregular or asymmetrical mole or growth
Skin Cancer Diagnosis
If you have any skin concerns like those mentioned above, it’s important to see a dermatologist. Ultimately, the only way to diagnose skin cancer is through a skin biopsy. The skin bump or mole in question will be removed and sent to a pathologist for review under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
Skin Cancer Treatment
The type of skin cancer treatment you receive will depend on the type skin cancer you have, the stage of your disease, and other factors. However it may include:
- Surgery to remove the skin cancer tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue around it; if your skin cancer is localized (hasn’t spread beyond the initial site), you will not need further treatment.
- Radiation therapy – the use of focused, high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing
- Chemotherapy – the use of drugs to stop cancer cells from multiplying in the body
- Photodynamic therapy – the use of medications, called photosensitizing agents, and light to kill cancer cells
- Targeted therapy – the use of drugs or other substances to more precisely identify and attack the cancer cells or genetic mutations specific to your tumor sub-type
- Biologic therapy – the use of vaccines or bacteria to stimulate the body's immune system to act against cancer cells