Basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas are dangerous cancerous skin growths. Olympic Dermatology is here for you with expert diagnosis, care and state-of-the-art medically-proven treatments.
Skin cancer affects 1 in 5 Americans and includes basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas. Skin cancers can happen anywhere on the body and can affect everyone, regardless of skin color. Some people have a higher risk of developing skin cancers than others. Factors can increase these risks include fair skin tones, more than 50 moles, or irregular shaped or darker moles. Risks are further increased with history of sunburns, use of tanning beds, previous skin cancer, or a weakened immune system. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: always use broad spectrum sunscreen, minimize sun exposure and see your dermatology provider regularly.
“I was totally pleased with my appointment with Dr. Brazil to remove skin cancer on my forearm. The total experience was excellent and above my expectations. Your pleasant, friendly staff made me feel right at home, thank you!”
— Olympic Dermatology medical patient, September 2018
What Are the Different Types of Cancerous Growths?
Basal Cell Carcinomas
Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer that lies in the deepest layer of the epidermis. They can appear on the skin in different shapes and sizes; sometimes as a dome shaped growth with visible blood vessels or a sore that can heal and then return, or as a shiny red patches or pink growths. It’s most common to occur in areas that receive a lot of sun like the scalp, face, nose, neck, and hands. Basal cell carcinomas rarely spread to other areas of the body but can grow deeper into the tissue.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It can appear on the skin in many shapes including a crusted or rough bump, a red, scaly flat patch, a dome shaped bump that grows and bleeds, or a sore that may heal and return. Damage from unprotected and cumulative sun exposure leads to squamous cell carcinoma in areas such as the face, ears, and lips, back of the hands, arms, and legs.
The most fatal form of skin cancer it may develop on normal skin or in an existing mole. Melanoma is most common in patients with fair skin but can affect all skin types and colors. Mole changes in shape, color size can be a sign of melanoma. Other signs include a mole that becomes painful or begins to itch or bleed. Melanomas that develops on normal skin will typically look different that other moles on the skin. It can also occur under fingernails or toenails and will look like a brown or black streak under the nail. If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a dermatology provider right away.
What Are the Treatment Options for Cancerous Growths?
Surgical removal is common for basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and malignant melanomas. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas can often be removed with a tangential excision followed by curettage and electrodessication. Some we excise and close with sutures to increase the cure rate and minimize scarring. Others that are in sensitive locations or have a higher risk of recurrence may require Moh’s surgery.
Malignant melanomas are excised with a 0.5 to 2 cm margin depending on how deep they are into the skin. Lymph node removal or sentinel lymph node biopsies may be necessary, along with coordinated care involving an oncologist and general surgeon.
Another option for more difficult-to-treat skin cancers is Brachytherapy. It’s an electronic form of radiation therapy that limits exposure to the cancer area only, without affecting other tissues. A short series of treatments results in a high cure rate with excellent cosmetic outcomes, and no surgery is required.
Thin basal and squamous cell carcinomas can occasionally be treated with topical chemotherapy cream or photodynamic therapy, but a lower cure rate limits the usefulness of these treatments.