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Definition of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is a type of disease where malignant cancer cells are to be found in the outer layer of a person’s skin. Skin cancer is one of the common types of cancers that affect the average U.S. population, spreading over more than 1 million people every year.

Skin cancer is divided into two general groups - malignant melanomas and non-melanoma cancers. Usually most types of skin cancer begin with a single cell. For unknown reasons the cell begins to multiply very fast. This out of control growth eventually leads to cancerous cells spreading throughout the body affecting larger areas.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Usually most forms of skin cancer develop in a characteristic pattern.  In the initial stages of the cancer, one sees certain specific changes in particular areas of the skin or in a mole on the skin, or even in the appearance of new moles in the body.

In the Basal type of cell cancer, there appears a small lesion in the skin that does not heal for at least fifteen to twenty days. The wounded area usually has shiny, rounded edges and looks flat and waxy. This infectious area grows bigger if left untreated.

A common symptom that is familiar with those experiencing melanoma is slight changes in existing moles. The mole color, size or shape changes and the area becomes itchy and tender.

Symptoms of a squamous cell cancer show a small raised bump within the skin. The bump often has a sore at the center and is usually painless.

Skin cancer is accompanied by the following signs and symptoms:

  • A new skin lesion or open sores that bleed, ooze, or crust, and fail to heal in an expected time frame
  • Enlargement of an existing skin lesion
  • Change in color, size, shape or texture of a mole
  • A new mole
  • Reddish patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the chest, shoulders, arms, or legs
  • Shiny bump that is pearly or translucent
  • Poorly defined borders of a skin lesion

Types of Skin cancer

The various types of skin cancer are;

Basal cell cancer- this is the most common type of skin cancer to be found, about 75 percent of all the skin cancers cases registered records this type. It usually appears after the age of thirty. Basal cell cancers develop very slowly and are usually seen to register after a person reaches their thirties. This cancer is usually found more frequently in light–skinned people.

Malignant melanoma – This is the rarest type of skin cancer. This type of skin cancer spreads very quickly and is aggressive in its invasion of different body parts like the lungs and liver. Melanomas are caused due to exposure to the sun and also because of genetic factors. Melanomas occur in different parts of the body, especially in the arms, legs, head, neck, and main body part.

Squamous cell cancer -  is the second most common type of skin cancer after the Basal cell cancer. It spreads faster than the basal cell cancer, but is less aggressive than a melanoma in its invasion over the body. This type of cancer occurs in the arms, neck and head, though it also sometimes spreads to other parts of the body, especially the lymph nodes. This type of skin cancer is not life-threatening but causes terrible scarring in different parts of the body.

Neuroendocrine carcinoma - is an aggressive neoplasm that mainly affects elderly Caucasians and typically arises in sun-exposed areas of the skin. The disease is rather rare and only a relatively few cases present with no apparent primary lesion site.

Paget's disease (PD) - is a rare type of skin cancer. It generally appears on the nipple, and is associated with an underlying breast cancer. It may also appear in the groin or near the anus, possibly originating in the sweat glands.

Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) - is caused by a virus in the herpes family. An aggressive AIDS-related form affects about one third of AIDS patients. A more slow growing form occurs in elderly men of Italian or Jewish ancestry.

Treatment

Patients Medical's highly trained plastic surgeon, Dr. Adam Schaffner, and Dermatologist, Dr. Rahat Azfar, are experienced working with patients who have, or think they may have Skin Cancer.

The first step is to have a consultation with a Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon. If you are interested in making an appointment, please call 212-794-8800 or enter your contact information on the form below so that we can contact you with scheduling information.