While the phrase “skin cancer” includes many different malignancies such as lymphomas, leukemias and other rare cancers of the skin, most commonly, the term refers to basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma. Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer in Gilbert AZ.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) – The most common cancer in humans, BCC develops in more than 1 million people every year in the United States alone. About 80% of all skin cancers are BCC, a cancer that develops in the basal cells – skin cells located in the lowest layer of the epidermis. These tumors very rarely metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), but do require complete excision.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – About 16% of diagnosed skin cancers are SCC. This cancer begins in the squamous cells, which are found in the upper layer of the epidermis. About 200,000 cases are diagnosed ever year. SCC tends to develop in fair-skinned middle-aged and elderly people who have had long-term sun exposure. While most commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the body, it can develop anywhere, including the inside of the mouth and the genitalia. SCC may arise from actinic keratoses. SCC requires early treatment to prevent metastasis (spreading).
Malignant Melanoma (MM) – Accounting for about 4% of all diagnosed skin cancers, melanoma begins in the melanocytes, cells within the epidermis that give skin its color. Melanoma has been coined “the most lethal form of skin cancer” because it can rapidly spread to the lymph system and internal organs. In the United States alone, approximately one person dies from melanoma every hour. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for melanoma is about 95%. Once its spreads, the prognosis is poor. Melanoma most often develops in a pre-existing mole or looks like a new mole, which is why it is important for people to know what their moles look like and be able to detect changes to existing moles and spot new moles.