Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer. It is estimated that over 1 million new cases occur annually . This number keeps growing. The good news is that the majority of all skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated in time.
There are two kinds of skin tumors, benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). The term “skin cancer” refers to three different conditions. They are:
- basal cell carcinoma (or basal cell carcinoma epithelioma)
- squamous cell carcinoma
Of the three main types of skin cancer, the most common and least serious is the basal cell carcinoma. Typically, it appears as a shiny, small lump on sun-exposed areas of persons who have spent a lot of time outdoors. Though the tumors grow slowly, they can reach a very large size and penetrate deeply if they are not treated. They may often bleed, develop a crust, seem to heal, and then bleed again.
Squamous cell carcinoma may show up as a lump or red scaly growth. Untreated, squamous cell cancer can spread and even cause death.
Melanoma is the least common but most serious form of skin cancer. It usually appears as a dark brown or black mole with uneven borders and irregular color, with shades of black/blue, red, or white. It may be perfectly flat or raised. Melanoma may occur anywhere on the body; from the scalp to the feet.
What if you find a lesion that you believe could be melanoma? See your doctor right away. Early diagnosis can be life-saving.
The only way to diagnose a melanoma with certainty is to examine the tissue under a microscope — a procedure called a biopsy.
The most important information the doctor gets from a biopsy is:
Is the lesion a melanoma, another type of skin cancer, or is it benign (non-cancerous)?
If the lesion is melanoma, how thick is it — that is, how deeply has it penetrated into the skin?
The thickness of the melanoma is critical information, both for the planning of therapy and for informing the patient just how serious the disease may be. Thickness of tumor is related to the statistical survival rate after tumor removal.
Due to the increase in sun exposure through tanning beds and other elements, it is critical to get your skin checked on a regular basis.
If the cancer is relatively small, Dr. Ferrara will surgically excise the cancerous flesh and then reconstruct the area. In extreme cases, where the cancer is larger or has spread to other areas of the body, Dr. Ferrara will discuss the various options in your consultation.Yearly full body skin cancer screenings are recommended by American Academy of Dermatology. A full spectrum sunscreen is recommended for daily use.