Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. Skin cancer commonly occurs on areas of the skin that are regularly or over-exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays (either from the sun or tanning beds). An estimated 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.
Types of skin cancer
There are three major types of skin cancer, including:
This type of skin cancer begins in the innermost layer of the epidermis (skin) or other epithelial tissue. This is the most common but least dangerous type of skin cancer. It often occurs on the head, neck and upper torso and may appear as a lump or dry, scaly area. It can be red, pale or pearly in color. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and may develop into an ulcer or look like a sore did not heal properly.
This type of skin cancer is caused by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal squamous cells. Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that look like fish scales. They are found in the tissue that makes up the surface of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma looks like a thick, red, scaly spot and it may bleed easily, crust or develop into an ulcer.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and may occur on areas of the skin not normally exposed to the sun. It occurs when the pigment-producing cells (cells that give color to skin) become cancerous. Melanoma can grow quickly and become life threatening in as little as six weeks. And, if left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma looks like a common mole or freckle and is usually flat, with an uneven outline. It may appear blotchy or multi-colored (blue, black, brown, red or gray).
Spots, blemishes, freckles and moles are often signs of sun-damaged skin. While they are usually harmless, it is important to see a doctor or dermatologist if you notice them changing. Anyone, regardless of skin type or color, can get cancer. Check with your doctor or dermatologist to find out how often you should have your skin checked.
For skilled skin cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood and Palos Heights, Illinois, call Alpha Med Physicians Group at 708-342-1900 and speak to one of our skin care specialists.