Skin cancer may seem less threatening than breast, lung, or colon cancers, but if you have the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, it can be fatal. A dermatologist can perform a thorough screening of your skin, but between appointments, you need to monitor your skin for signs of … Read More
basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of all skin cancers. Though it doesn’t spread like melanoma, it can cause disfiguring scars if not identified and treated early. Basal cell carcinoma starts in basal cells; the cells that line the top layer of skin and produce new cells as old ones die.
As with other types of skin cancer, the cause of most basal cell carcinomas is cellular damage resulting from excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Most basal cell carcinomas are found on areas of the skin that have received a lot of sun exposure; like the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, and back.
One of the hallmark signs of a basal cell carcinoma is an open sore that bleeds or crusts over and never seems to heal. The cancer can also form a shiny or waxy bump, sometimes with blood vessels running through it. Or, it can take the form of a scaly reddish patch. In rare cases, basal cell carcinomas resemble a white, waxy scar. If you notice any growth that’s new or changing, call your dermatologist for an appointment.
The doctor will do a biopsy, removing a small sample of tissue from the growth to check it for cancer. For small cancers, the doctor can use a tool called a curette to scrape it off, and then seal the skin underneath with an electric needle. In Mohs surgery, the doctor removes thin layers of the tissue, one at a time, examining each layer under a microscope until all the cancer cells are gone. For larger cancers, the dermatologist can use a scalpel to remove the whole growth, along with some of the skin around it. This is called surgical excision.
Lasers, radiation, and freezing are other methods used to remove basal cell carcinoma. Cancers that are not very deep may be treated with topical drugs such as imiquimod (Aldara), and fluorouracil (Carac, Fluoroplex, Efudex).
Can you die from skin cancer? If you don't know someone in your circle who's been diagnosed and treated from skin cancer, you may have a preconception that skin cancer is treatable 100 percent of the time. But each type of skin cancer carries its own survival risks. Melanoma is … Read More
Oops! You did it again. You got so caught up in the outdoor fun you were having that you forgot to apply sunblock. Now you have the tell-tale signs of a sunburn—hot, painful, itchy skin. Not sure how to soothe it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (like you should … Read More
People with fair complexions, red hair, blue eyes, and freckles typically are considered to be at greater risk of skin cancer than their darker-skinned counterparts. Research has shown that melanomas and other skin cancers occur more commonly in Caucasians than in other racial groups. However, a new study suggests that … Read More
It’s annoying, uncomfortable, and just plain unpleasant. Itchy skin, or pruritus, is one of the ways our body tells us that something isn’t quite right, but how do we know what that “something” is? And what can we do about it? Here are 11 reasons why you might be suffering … Read More
You've heard the warnings about the dangers of skin cancer over and over again, and you know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun using sunscreen and clothing, but do you know what skin cancer symptoms to look for? Depending on your medical and family history, you may … Read More
The three most common skin cancer types are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma, and the number of Americans who get one or more forms continues to increase. Nearly half of Americans who live to be 65 will develop some type of skin cancer. Almost all of them, … Read More
Melanoma—the most serious form of skin cancer—is rare, but the number of cases is still cause for concern. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 87,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year, and nearly 10,000 die from the disease. Regular self-checks will help you recognize skin cancer signs … Read More
Guess what! I’m a bad mother (well, at least some of the time). The other day I was playing in a pool with my kids. We had finally escaped the winter to a place where the warm sun shone, and our goosebumps dissolved into a distant memory. We were having … Read More
Is skin cancer itchy? The easy answer to this question is, “No, itchy skin by itself is not likely to be a symptom of skin cancer,” but it’s important to look beyond the easiest answer. Each type of cancer has its own set of symptoms, and there is some overlap … Read More