The total cases of skin cancer every year outnumber the total of all other types of cancer combined. Fortunately, the vast majority of the cases are cancer types such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinoma that typically have successful treatment rates, particularly when detected early.
Melanoma, on the other hand, is aggressive and tends to spread more easily. Though it’s rare when compared with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, it’s statistically significant as well as the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Regular skin cancer screenings are a smart idea for anyone who spends time outdoors or who has certain risk factors that increase their chances of developing skin cancer. Even if you’re at low risk, changes to moles or spots on your skin could indicate a problem. In Columbia Maryland, choose MD Vein & Skin Specialists as your skin cancer expert.
Cancers result when cells in your body change and start to reproduce in an uncontrolled way, forming a mass called a tumor. This tumor is malignant — or cancerous — if it affects or invades neighboring tissue. Cancerous cells starve surrounding cells by stealing nutrition to feed their enormous growth rate. Left untreated, cancer cells may take over, while the cells you need to live begin to die.
Melanocytes are cells in your skin that produce the pigment that gives skin its color. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources like tanning beds can cause mutations in melanocyte cells, resulting in melanoma. About 30% of melanomas start in an existing mole, while the remainder develop in areas of normal skin.
Close to 200,000 cases of melanoma occur each year, with slightly more than half of the cases penetrating into the middle layers of the skin. Though it’s an aggressive form of cancer that can travel through the bloodstream to infect other parts of your body, melanoma has a good survival rate when it’s detected early. White males are the segment of the population most susceptible to melanoma.
Along with squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma is grouped as a nonmelanoma skin cancer. Both of these cancers are less likely to spread to other parts of your body, particularly when treated early.
While it’s thought that UV exposure contributes to the development of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, these forms of skin cancer can also develop in areas of your body not normally exposed to sunlight. Genetics, fair skin, radiation therapy, chronic ulcers and getting older are some of the other factors that increase your risk of this type of cancer.
Usually, changes in the skin can be observed before a spot becomes cancerous. This is the ideal time to treat a developing skin cancer, when it’s still in its precancerous stages. While self-checks at home are helpful in detection, there are places on your body that are difficult to evaluate even with a mirror, and there are skin changes that may not be obvious to an untrained eye.
Contact the team at MD Vein & Skin Specialists, online or by telephone to schedule a skin cancer screening examination. A short session with Dr. Clement Banda can put your mind at ease. Book your appointment now.