Actinic Keratosis or Solar Keratosis are considered the earliest stage of skin cancer; it is considered a pre-cancer. It can be treated with cryotherapy (freezing), topical chemotherapy (applying a cream or lotion), photodynamic therapy (a chemical is applied to the skin prior to exposure to a light source), or other dermatologic surgical procedures.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It accounts for over 90% of all skin cancers in the U.S. They usually do not grow quickly, and will not metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). They will continue to get larger and can extend below the skin to the bone and nerves. When found early, this skin cancer is highly treatable. Surgery is the most common choice of treatment.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but it does so more often than Basal cell carcinoma. Unlike Basal cell carcinoma, this form of cancer can metastasize (spread to other parts of the body), so it is important to get treatment early. When treated early the cure rate for both Basal cell and Squamous cell carcinoma is over 95%.
Melanoma is an uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells that starts in skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes are pigmented cells in the skin. Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Early detection is important because melanoma may metastasize (spread to other parts of the body).
Warning Signs of Melanoma
- Changing mole
- Spot that looks like a new mole, freckle, or age spot, but it looks different from the others on your skin
- Spot that has a jagged border, more than one color, and is growing
- Dome-shaped growth that feels firm and may look like a sore, which may bleed
- Dark-brown or black vertical line beneath a fingernail or toenail
- Band of darker skin around a fingernail or toenail
- Slowly growing patch of thick skin that looks like a scar