Each year, more than 1.2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. It is the most common form of human cancers. While skin cancer is not always life-threatening, it can progress if left untreated. Those that have had skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer again, which is why routine self-examination is important. Self-exams are important and changes can signal a need for attention. Dermatologists use the ABCDE to describe what to look for in mole changes:
- A = Asymmetry – one half of the mole is unlike the other half
- B = Border – the edge or border of the mole is irregular or blurred
- C = Color – the color is not uniform with shades of black, brown, tan and sometimes red, white and blue
- D = Diameter – the mole is greater than 6 mm (the size of a pencil eraser) although melanomas can be smaller
- E = Evolving – a mole that is changing or evolving or looks different than the others
There are many types of skin cancers, but the majority fall into the following three types: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. The cancer first develops in the upper layer of the skin, and then invades the deeper layers. It may metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma also requires a biopsy. This can be done removing the entire tumor along with some of the surrounding tissue, or removing only a part of the tumor.
- can develop anywhere although it is most frequently found on the scalp, face, ears, arms and back of hands
- on darker skin squamous cell carcinoma are more likely to develop on areas that are not exposed to the skin
- firm red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
- fair skin
- middle-aged and seniors with a history of sun exposure
- having actinic keratosis spots - rough, scaly skin patch caused by the sun (considered pre-cancerous)