Most people out there have probably heard of melanoma. Despite its ownership of a relatively small percentage of total skin cancer occurrences, it accounts for over 75% of all skin cancer related deaths, making it by far the most deadly. But melanoma is only one of several types of skin cancer that, combined, account for over 2 million new cases per year. This knowledge inevitably gives rise to a common question among residents: “what types of skin cancer are there?”
Non-Melanoma and Melanoma Categories
Likely owing to its comparative malignance over the other types, when dividing skin cancer into categories, melanoma is classed alone. Other types of skin cancer are classified as non-melanoma cancers. Let’s have a look at the different types and some of their distinguishing characteristics:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma: presenting as a bump or growth that is pearly or waxy, white or light pink, flesh-colored or brown, Basal Cell Carcinoma may not appear much different from regular skin early on, and can even appear only just slightly raised or even flat. Signs include oozing, crusting, or sunken areas in a sore, skin sores that bleed easily or don’t heal, the appearance of a scar-like sore without a related injury, or irregular blood vessels in or around the spot in question.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: appearing as a sore that doesn’t heal, a scaly growth that develops a crust or bleeds, or a firm red nodule, Squamous Cell Carcinoma occurs most frequently on the lower lip, hands, nose, forehead, ears, and other sun-exposed areas of the body. A variant of this type, called Bowen disease, spreads outward on the skin’s surface as opposed to inward and looks like scaly, reddish, potentially crusted patches that are often mistaken for eczema psoriasis or other similar conditions.
- Melanoma: changes in color, size, or shape of a mole or pigmented area on the skin are common indicators of melanoma. Also if these are more than one color, have irregular edges, are asymmetrical, bleed, itch, or ooze, melanoma may be present.
- Less Common Types: rarer types of skin cancer include sebaceous gland carcinoma, an aggressive cancer originating in the skin’s oil glands; Merkel cell carcinoma, which is usually discovered on sun-exposed areas on the neck, head, legs, and arms but often spreads to other parts of the body; and Kaposi’s sarcoma, which is mostly seen in people with weakened immune systems.
Prevention and Treatment
Though people who aren’t regularly exposed to the sun’s rays can still get skin cancer, sun exposure is its primary cause. Protecting yourself by limiting exposure during the peak hours of 10am-4pm, wearing protective clothing and glasses, and the generous application of sunscreen are all helpful in minimizing your risk.
With treatment, early detection of skin cancer is key to success. Regular self-checks and annual skin exams can often help identify pre-cancerous signs before they become problematic. Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Perri immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms in your skin.
What Types of Skin Cancer Are There? Dr. Anthony J. Perri can answer any questions you may have about this disease and its various types. Call today for your appointment.