Common Skin Growths
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Cancerous growths can develop when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells – often caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds – triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
Melanomas often resemble moles and some forms develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown but they can also be pink, red, purple, blue or white or a combination of colors. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease.
If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost always curable. Untreated, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, and it can be fatal. While it is not the most common skin cancer, melanomas cause the most deaths. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 7,230 people will die of melanoma in 2019.
Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) are the most frequently occurring form of all cancers, and they most often appear as open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars. More than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. In fact, more than one of every three new cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer, and the vast majority are BCCs.
Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions stemming from cellular damage in the skin’s basal cells lining the deepest layer of the epidermis. BCCs are usually caused by a combination of years of natural or artificial sun exposure and intense, occasional sun exposure that resulted in sunburn. Regular skin checks by your dermatologist can identify BCCs. Treatment options may include lasers, cryosurgery or Mohs surgery. Choice of treatment is based on the type, size, location, and depth of the tumor, patient’s age and general health, and cosmetic considerations.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer, with more than 1 million cases diagnosed in the U.S each year. SCC occurs when uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arises from damage to the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer. Daily year-round sun exposure, intense exposure resulting in sunburn, and UV light exposure from tanning beds are all contributors to the damage. Experts believe that indoor tanning is connected to an increase in SCC cases among young women, who tend to use tanning beds.
SCCs appear as scaly red patches, open sores, warts or elevated growths with a central depression that may crust or bleed. SCCs are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms, and legs. Treatment options may include lasers, cryosurgery or Mohs surgery. Choice of treatment is based on the type, size, location, and depth of the tumor, patient’s age and general health, and cosmetic considerations.