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Skin cancer is treatable when caught early, which is why Dr. Fine urges patients to regularly examine their skin. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds because skin cancers have a variety of appearances, and the way they look often changes over time. Three types of skin cancer to watch out for are:
Basal cell carcinoma: The most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma is slow-growing and may look like a flesh-colored bump, a pink patch of skin, or a waxy-appearing small bump. It may have small blood vessels on its surface that easily bleed.
Squamous cell carcinoma: The second most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a red, firm bump or as a dry, scaly patch. Sometimes it looks like a sore with a crust or a sore that heals then reopens.
Melanoma: This is the least common but deadliest type of cancer. It’s treatable when diagnosed early, but it can spread through the body and become fatal. Melanoma often begins in existing moles but can develop as a new spot. Watch for moles or spots that:
All types of skin cancer are primarily caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light, whether from sunlight or a tanning bed. Skin cancer develops over time from the cumulative effect of ultraviolet light. However, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma are also caused by occasional intense exposure to ultraviolet light, such as severe sunburns during childhood.
Other factors that increase the risk of skin cancer include:
Dr. Fine provides comprehensive skin cancer services, including diagnosing the cancer with a biopsy, removing it, then repairing the resulting wound. The type, size, and location of the cancer determine the treatment, prognosis, and degree of reconstruction. A small cancer caught early may only require stitches, but all three types can spread into surrounding tissue, which causes damage and requires significant surgical reconstruction after the cancerous tissue is removed.
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