Skin Cancers/Carcinoma (basal/squamous cell)

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma a common type of skin cancer that occurs in the basal cell layer of the skin. It is the most common type of skin cancer in people with fair skin, and it usually occurs on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face. Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other parts of the body but is still a serious condition that requires prompt treatment.

Causes of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma affects the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis and occurs when the skin cell process does not work correctly. New skin cells may form when the body doesn’t need them, and old or damaged cells don’t die as they should. This buildup of extra cells often forms a mass of tissue which develops into a tumor. Most cases are caused by long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays but people with fair skin and a personal or family history of skin cancer may also be at a greater risk. Age may also be a factor, as most cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.

Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma may appear on the skin as a new growth that bleeds easily or does not heal quickly, and may be white, pink, flesh-colored or brown. Additional symptoms of basal cell carcinoma may include:

  • Smooth or waxy bump
  • Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • Firm, red nodule
  • Crusted, flat lesion
  • Rough and scaly patch red or brown of skin
  • Existing mole that changes shape or color

Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Treatment for basal cell carcinoma often includes the removal of the growth. Removal methods can vary based on the size,depth and location of the cancer and may include::

  • Surgical excision
  • Freezing
  • Laser Surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Mohs surgery
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage

Basal cell carcinoma that does not extend very far into the skin, may be treated with creams or ointments. Certain topical medications such as imiquimod and fluorouracil may be used topically for several weeks to treat certain basal cell carcinomas that are limited to the surface of the skin.

Prevention of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Although not all cases of basal cell carcinoma can be prevented, the best protection from skin cancer is protection from the sun. The following recommendations may help in preventing skin cancer:

  • Limit exposure to the skin
  • Always wear sun screen
  • Wear a hat in the sun
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants
  • Avoid tanning beds

Individuals are advised to perform routine self skin checks to spot any skin changes as early as possible. It is important to practice preventive measures and see a dermatologist for a full body screening on a regular basis. Basal cell carcinomas are often a recurring condition,so preventive measures should be taken to prevent a recurrence.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that occurs in the squamous cells of the skin. It is usually caused by excessive, long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun and most frequently affects people over the age of 50. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer in people with dark skin. In dark skinned individuals, it commonly occurs in places that have not been exposed to the sun such as the legs or feet. While individuals with fair skin may have an occurrence of squamous cell carcinoma in sun exposed areas, such as on the face, head, ears and neck, it is possible to get squamous cell carcinoma on any part of the body. Squamous cell skin cancer may spread to other parts of the body, so early detection is extremely important in treating this condition.

Risk Factors for Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Factors that may increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma include:

  • Fair skin
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • History of sunburns
  • Use of tanning beds
  • History of previous skin cancer
  • Weakened immune system

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma commonly develops as a growth on the skin, usually in sun-exposed areas. These growths can vary in appearance and may appear as a new growth or a change in appearance to a pre-existing mole or growth. Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma may include:

  • A rough or scaly lump on the skin
  • Dome shaped or crusty growth
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Flat, reddish, scaly patch
  • A mole or growth that bleeds

Treatment of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma that does not extend very far into the skin, may be treated with creams or ointments. Certain anti-cancer medications may be used topically for several weeks to treat cases of squamous cell carcinoma that are limited to the surface of the skin. Most other cases can be completely removed through minimally invasive procedures that may include freezing, surgical excision, laser therapy. Removal methods vary based on the size, depth and location of the cancer and additional methods may include:

  • Cryosurgery
  • Mohs surgery
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage

Radiation therapy may be an option for treating deeper tumors, or for treating squamous cell carcinoma in people who cannot undergo surgery. Squamous cell carcinoma can usually be treated successfully if detected early and removed quickly

Prevention of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Although not all cases of squamous cell carcinoma can be prevented, the best protection from skin cancer is protection from the sun. The following recommendations may help in preventing skin cancer:

  • Limit exposure to the skin
  • Always wear sun screen
  • Wear a hat in the sun
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants
  • Avoid tanning beds

Individuals are advised to perform routine self skin checks to spot any skin changes as early as possible. It is important to practice preventive measures and see a dermatologist for a full body screening on a regular basis.

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