Skin Cancer Types
Divine Dermatology Treats Various Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and there are several different types of skin cancer. Divine Dermatology has experience treating all types of skin cancer at our office in Fort Collins and Loveland CO. We know that being diagnosed with skin cancer can be overwhelming, but education can help you feel more at ease. We’ve prepared some information on the most common skin cancer types, and we’d be happy to discuss your treatment options with you.
Actinic Keratosis (Precancers)
It’s best to catch any form of cancer in its early stages. An actinic keratosis (AK) is a low risk pre-cancerous growth that can develop into squamous cell carcinomas if left untreated. Actinic keratosis is caused by DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps all produce UV light. Actinic keratosis will typically be either red or brown patches, usually showing up in multiples at once, and the skin on top will be scaly and rough. This precancerous skin growth is more common for people with fair skin and often forms on the face and scalp, neck, hands, and forearms. If you notice any dry and scaly patches or spots on your skin, be sure to schedule an appointment with Divine Dermatology.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Sometimes referred to as basal cell cancer or simply basal cell, basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It develops in the basal cell layer of the skin, which is the lowest part of the epidermis. Like actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma often develops in areas that get the most sunlight, including the head and neck. Basal cell cancers may grow fast or slow. Over long periods of time, basal cell can grow roots into the surrounding skin, fat, muscle, and cartilage, but very rarely spread to inside the body. Those with one basal cell are at high risk to grow others over time. Therefore, it’s important to visit a dermatologist for regular follow-up visits for routine skin cancer screenings.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common type of skin cancer. This cancer is most often found on areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, like the face, ears, neck, shins, or back of the hands. This skin cancer can form in all skin tones. It can grow fast or slow. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is able to spread to inside the body more easily than basal cell, but usually takes years of neglect to do so. Squamous cell carcinomas develop from the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layer of the epidermis. It can appear as a scaly flat patch, or a red firm scaling bump. When squamous cell carcinoma grows wide and flat, it is sometimes referred to as Bowen’s disease. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent them from growing too deep or spreading.
Melanoma forms from skin cells called melanocytes that produce the pigment, or color, of our skin. These cells often make more pigment when they’re exposed to the sun, known as a sun tan, to try protect the other cells of the skin from harmful UV rays. Some skin types have melanocytes that struggle to produce pigment even with sun exposure, while others will always have very dark to black pigment even without any sun exposure. No matter the color of the skin, or the ability to tan, all skin tones have the same number of melanocytes and can develop melanoma. Melanoma can develop in young adults, middle age, and elderly. While most melanoma occurs on the face, trunk, and legs, it can also develop in unsuspecting places, such as on the palms and soles, under the nails, in the groin, and in the back of the eye. This type of skin cancer can develop within a mole or it can appear suddenly on its own. Melanoma is dangerous because of its ability to spread easily. Treatment is usually more aggressive than for basal cell and squamous cell, but it very curable when caught and treated early. For these reasons, new, growing or changing moles should never be ignored and should be brought to the attention of Divine Dermatology urgently.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive type of skin cancer. It forms in your skin’s Merkel cells, which are responsible for your sense of touch. Merkel cell carcinoma is most common in the face and scalp among people who are older than 50 and have a compromised immune system. This skin cancer can spread to the bones, brain, liver, and lungs. It does not have a distinctive appearance, which is why visiting your Divine Dermatology regularly is so important.
Visit Us at the First Sign of Skin Cancer
The experienced dermatologists at Divine Dermatology in Fort Collins and Loveland, CO specialize in diagnosing and treating skin cancer of all types. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.