There are many types of cancers of the skin. Of the most common include:
Actinic Keratosis: These red, rough and scaling plaques of the skin are frequently seen in areas like the head, scalp face and back of hands and legs that have experienced chronic exposure to the sun.
Basal Cell Carcinoma: There are many presentations and types of basal cell carcinoma. Most frequently, these lesions are pearly, translucent and sometimes have a central ulceration. Sometimes they can look like a growing scar and sometimes they can look like a superficial red scaling plaque. Generally, basal cell skin cancers can be treated with surgical or sometimes topical immunotherapy. Early diagnosis is important to minimizing the degree of surgery needed and optimizing the results.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A squamous cell carcinoma also can present in a varying manner. These can be firm, hard nodules also with ulceration. Sometimes these also can present as broad red scaling plaques. Occasionally, they can present more red and inflamed than hard and skin colored. The edges of a Squamous cell carcinoma can sometimes be indistinct and may take the histological, assessment to determine where the margins are. Squamous cell carcinoma’s do have the potential to metastasize and need complete treatment.
Melanoma: The classic changes that can signify melanoma include the ABCDE’s: A for asymmetric, B for irregular Boarder, C for multiple colors, D for Diameter bigger than 6 mm and E for Evolving or changing lesions. Sometimes melanoma skin cancers can be amelanotic, or without pigment at all. Melanomas can also present as a red or bleeding nodule. Melanoma skin cancer can metastasize and early diagnosis and treatment is important.
There are many other types of skin cancers not listed here. One should pay attention to anything new or different on your skin; if something is changing, bleeding, or itching this can be a significant symptom and skin lesions with these changes need evaluation.
The fundamentals of skin care include:
Self Skin Exams: Data shows that looking at your skin for any new or symptomatic skin changes once a month can help in early detection of skin cancers. Our clinic has information on how best to do a self-skin examination. Areas people easily miss are the back of the upper legs and the lower back, the back of the neck, in the scalp and between their toes. Additional information regard self-skin exams can be found on the American Academy of Dermatology website.
Sun Protection: Sun protection is vital to skin safety. Clothing will always be the most effective treatment for sun protection. Various new sun protective brands are available both online and in outdoor clothing stores. The skin Cancer Foundation also sells sun protective clothing, and their proceeds go toward education and public safety of the skin. Please visit SkinCancer.org and the Academy of Dermatology site for more information.
Sunscreens are also vital to skin safety. One needs a blocker that blocks bopth UVA and UVB light. Physical blockers like high percentage titanium dioxide/zinc oxide are ideal. Our office proudly has Vanicream available which is also free of dyes, lanolin, fragrance, masking fragrance, formaldehyde, parabens, and other preservatives.
Other topical agents can be fundamental to addressing the effects of time. Topical retinoid acid agents, anti-oxidants, hydroquinones and regenerative products have proven data efficacy. Visit our clinic to determine which topical therapeutic approach would best serve your skin type and needs.