The appearance of non-melanoma skin cancer varies widely, from rough, scaly red patches, to raised, shiny non-healing bumps. Skin cancer affects people of all ages and skin types and it is recommended that most patients get their skin checked at least once a year. The two most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma, are typically found in sun-exposed areas of the skin and may grow very quickly, or stay quiet for years before becoming active. A patient should be concerned for any area on their skin that does not heal, changes colors, or becomes noticeably larger over time. Once basal or squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed, a surgery is required to ensure all the cancerous cells are removed. Because these cancers tend to stay confined to the skin and do not spread into the body, this surgery can be performed in the office with the patient awake using only local anesthesia.
Melanoma skin cancer is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Unlike other forms of skin cancer, melanoma can occur in non-sun exposed areas of skin, and if left untreated cancer typically spreads to internal organs. Melanoma usually presents as a dark lesion, but it can also have pink, blue or white hues. Any suspicious dark spots on the skin should be evaluated by a dermatologist, and anyone with a personal or family history of melanoma should be seen by a dermatologist at least yearly. Visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website at www.skincancer.org, for more valuable information on how to detect skin cancer.