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The most common types of skin cancer and how to treat them

Skin pigmentation changes can take various forms – from harmless pigmentations and moles, to malignant melanoma and cancer. It is therefore important to get information about potential risks in advance and be sure to contact an expert if you notice anything unusual.

It is known that the appearance of moles, pigmentation and skin tumors is most affected by exposure to the sun and other forms of radiation, but also the genetic factor. Depending on the individual case, these changes can be in the form of:

This text is about the most common types of malignant skin changes. If you think that you have noticed any change that looks like what we described above, be sure to contact a doctor, or make an appointment for a dermoscopy check at the BT Aesthetic Surgery Center, where we will quickly identify what it is and suggest further steps.

You can find out more about harmless skin changes and what to pay attention to when you perform self-examination of moles by clicking on Moles and Skin Changes – a reason for fear or is it normal to have them?

Basal-cell carcinomas

Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, which usually occurs in middle-aged and older people, and is formed as a result of chronic exposure of the skin to UV radiation.

There are different forms of basal-cell carcinoma. Nodular basal-cell carcinomas look like raised lobes of a smooth surface, often with a wound in the middle, and they are usually found in the head and neck area.

Other superficial basal-cell carcinomas look like thin brown or red plates on the skin, which patients usually describe as “non-healing wounds”. They most commonly occur on the body, arms and legs, and therefore can easily be mistakenly replaced with dry skin, actinic keratosis, eczema or psoriasis – but they do not react to the application of hydrating creams or local corticosteroids.

Basal-cell carcinoma grows slowly and does not cause any symptoms. This is the least dangerous form of skin cancer, as it has the least potential for metastasis compared to all other carcinoma, in any part of the body or organ. However, it is locally invasive and if not treated it can destroy tissue that is located next to or underneath it.

When diagnosed and treated in time, it is completely curable. The solution is the surgical excision of the tumor in local anesthesia, after which the patient is cured.

Squamous cell carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinoma, or spinocellular carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, right after melanoma. It is cancer type with medium metastatic potential, it is completely curable at an early stage, when it is non-invasive, while in the late invasive phase it is possible to metastasize to the surrounding tissues and internal organs. It is more malignant than basal-cell carcinoma and can spread into lymph nodes and other organs, especially when it is localized on the lips, ears and fingers.

It occurs most commonly in people older than 50, although recently younger patients have also been affected. The main reasons for the development of squamous cell carcinoma are skin damage due to increased UV radiation and genetic predisposition.

Squamous cell carcinoma is not easily recognized by non-professionals. Most often it begins as a pink little patch or a change in the shape of a light or pink knot. At this stage, there are usually no symptoms, so it can only be spotted at regular examinations or, by chance, during examination of another skin change.

However, if not noticed at the initial stage, the tumor continues to develop and grow both in width and depth. It then appears in the form of raised nodes with scabs or red plates which peel, and this is why patients often mix it with nipples.

Good news is that squamous cell carcinoma is fully curable in all cases when timely diagnosed and treated. We perform only surgical excision of this type of cancer.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the rarest, but also the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Unlike basal-cell and squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma is found in relatively young patients and it rapidly grows and expands.

It is caused by the damage of melanocytic cells that give color to our skin at the level of their DNA. It can appear on an already existing mole, but also on healthy skin. In slightly less than 30% of cases, it appears on the mole itself, while more frequently it starts to form near the moles or other darker parts of the skin.

The sudden change in the existing mole is the first sign that something is happening. Another important indicator is a completely new skin change that at first looks like a mole, but eventually changes in size, shape or color.

You will recognize melanoma as brown-black pigmentation, which increases with irregular, sharp edges and uneven colors. It can also take form of pink or reddish lumps with a smaller amount of pigment, also of rapid growth.

Example of melanoma

Melanoma is fully curable in all cases when timely diagnosed and treated. Here at BT Aesthetic Surgery Center we diagnose melanoma by dermoscopy, and melanoma is removed by surgical excision which leads to patient’s healing.