Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and involves abnormal growths of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, but most frequently appear on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Although most cases of skin cancer can be successfully treated, it is still important to keep skin safe and healthy and try to prevent this disease.

There are three major types of skin cancer that affect associated layers of the skin. These major types are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma affects the squamous cells, which are just below the outer surface of the skin and serve as the inner lining.
  • Basal cell carcinoma affects the basal cells, which lay under the squamous cells and produce new skin cells.
  • Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and affects the melanocytes, which produce melanin.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Everyday, skin cells die and new ones form to replace them in a process controlled by DNA. Skin cancer can form when this process does not work properly because of damage to DNA. New cells may form when they are not needed or older cells may not die. This can cause a growth of tissue known as a tumor. DNA damage is often a result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps. Since skin cancer can sometimes affect areas not exposed to the sun, heredity may also be a factor.

Certain factors, such as fair skin, moles, a weakened immune system and age, can also increase the risk of skin cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Skin cancer can often be identified as a new or changed growth on the skin that may often occur on the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands or legs. The appearance of the growth depends on the type of cancer, but can appear as:

  • Pearly or waxy bump
  • Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
  • Firm, red nodule
  • Crusted, flat lesion
  • Large brown spot with darker speckles
  • Mole that changes shape or color
  • Shiny, firm bumps

Do you have any questions about Skin Cancer? If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists in our Los Alamitos or Agoura Hills office, please contact us for a consultation.