Skin cancer is a growth of abnormal cells, which is often caused by sun exposure. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in his or her lifetime.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell cancer- the most common type of skin cancer which usually is a tan or pink shiny bump or pink flat patch
Squamous cell cancer- the second most common type, which typically appears as a firm pink scaly bump or a scaly pink patch.
Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers generally grow locally in the top of the skin, but if left untreated can grow deep and cause more damage and disfigurement.
Melanoma- a more serious skin cancer which can spread to other parts of the body. It can appear as a dark, irregular spot on the skin, or can develop from a preexisting mole. Early diagnosis and treatment are especially important in the case of melanoma.
Skin examinations by your dermatologist play an important role in the detection of skin cancers. During these screenings, new growths and changes in existing spots and growths can be monitored and evaluated. In addition, you should check your skin on a regular basis for suspicious spots or growths that are changing or not healing.
There are different ways skin cancer can be treated, including surgical procedures and chemotherapy creams. The specific choice of treatment is based on factors such as the type, stage and location of the skin cancer. Your dermatologist will discuss treatment options and recommend the best course of treatment for you.