What is skin cancer:
Skin cancer starts in the cells of the epidermis (skin). There are three different types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanomas. Basal and Squamous skin cancers are by far the more common ones seen. They are usually present where the skin is exposed to the sun most. For example, the head and neck. Melanomas skin cancer is developed from Melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that give the skin its brown pigment. Moles are a form of benign Melanocytes. These three types of skin cancers can all be cured if tested and treating early. Other types of skin cancers that are not as common include Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Kaposi Sarcoma, Cutaneous Lymphoma, Skin Adnexal Tumors, and other types of Sarcomas. Testing for skin cancer in Bountiful can help catch the signs early and prevent it from spreading.
What causes skin cancer:
There are many risk factors that can cause skin cancers. The most common risk factors and causes of skin cancer include:
DNA: Skin cancers occur when mutations form in the DNA of skin cells. The mutations cause the cells to grow out of control forming a mass of cancer cells.
Ultraviolet Light: The damage to the DNA cells can result from ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet radiation is found in the sunlight and in the lights of tanning beds. Ultraviolet light radiation can pose as a higher problem for people living in a high elevation where the sunlight exposure is more intense.
Fair Skin: Fair skin people are at a higher risk for skin cancer because of lesser pigmentation (melanin). Melanin in your skin provides protection from damaging UV radiation.
Exposure to Radiation: Radiation such as those from X-rays or chemical that are known to predispose to cancer.
Moles: Moles are a hereditary trait. Some moles can become abnormal, causing individuals with moles a higher risk to get skin cancer. Abnormal moles can be larger in size, darker, odd shaped, etc. Watch your moles regularly to spot any abnormal ones.
How is skin cancer tested:
A biopsy is the only sure way to know if the tumor is cancerous. A biopsy is the removal of a small amount of tissue that will be examined under a microscope. The pathologist will determine if it is cancerous or not. The Bountiful dermatologist may also order blood work for further evaluation.
How do you treat skin cancer:
Most skin cancers can be detected and cured before they spread. There are standard treatments for localized basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Most of those treatments are safe and effective. Melanoma poses the greatest threat, especially if it has spread to other organs or areas of the body. Most are treated by removing the tumor either in the office or if it is deeper, it may be surgically removed. After removal, the doctor might use radiation therapy, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, biologic therapy, or targeted therapy. It all depends on the severity of the case