As May marks Skin Cancer Awareness Month, now is a great time to learn more about this. While if caught early, the majority of patients make a full recovery from skin cancer, battling any form of cancer is a frightening and stressful experience.
Here, we will look at the different types of skin cancer and how they are treated.
What are the different types of skin cancer?
There are three main forms of skin cancer, known as squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and Melanoma. You find basal, squamous, and melanocyte cells within the epidermis. So, the types of cancer relate to where they are found in the skin.
Both squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas are non-melanoma cancers. These tend to be the most common types of skin cancer diagnosed. Basal cell carcinomas grow slowly, and they very rarely spread to other areas of the body. There are a lot of different types of this cancer, but it mostly presents as smooth and shiny spots which form an ulcer over time.
With squamous cell carcinomas, they tend to present as small lumps with a crusty surface. They can develop on areas of the skin exposed to the sun, as well as in non-exposed areas. These types of cancers tend to grow quickly, and they can spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Developing on the lower layer of the epidermis, if not treated early it will spread to other areas of the body. It is important to notice any changes in the skin as early as possible.
These are the main types of skin cancers to be aware of. While melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer, treating any type of cancer quickly is important. Therefore, understanding the differences between them is crucial.
Understanding the different stages of investigation
If you do notice any unusual changes in the skin, there are four main stages of investigation you’ll undergo. These include:
- Full skin check
If you are worried about a lesion, consult your GP or book an appointment with Consultant Dermatologist Dr Kara Heelan to carry out a full skin check, providing an in-depth examination.
Specific lesions will be evaluated through dermoscopy, using a dermatoscope or a handheld magnifying lens. If it is deemed necessary, a biopsy will be taken to analyse the skin under a microscope.
The diagnosis is fast and painless. If any issues are detected, a thorough treatment plan can then be created with a specialist.
With all skin cancers, prevention is the best cure. Looking after the skin will help to keep your risk to a minimum. Always use a good sunscreen with minimum SPF 30 and both UVA and UVB protection to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays.