There are three main types of skin cancer . The most serious is melanoma.
Like all body tissues our skin is made up of cells: basal cells, squamous cells and melanocytes
The different types of skin cancer are named for the skin cell where the cancer develops: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Carcinoma is another word for cancer. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are often grouped together and called ‘common' skin cancers.
It is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and it is the only type of cancer with a death rate still on the rise. Early detection of this type of skin cancer can be difficult. Although there are many different subtypes of melanoma clinically and histologically, they can ultimately be divided into two categories:
Fast growing melanoma, usually thick or nodular melanoma;
Slow growing melanoma, usually thin or superficial spreading melanoma;
Fast growing melanomas can be fatal within a few weeks. In many instances patients do not have a chance to present to their doctor before it is too late. However if it is detected and treated early enough there is a chance that it can be cured. Slow growing melanoma can take months or years to grow before it becomes fatal. It is very often indistinguishable from a normal mole with a naked eye therefore careful skin examination to detect this type of skin cancer is very important. If you have regular skin checks no one should die from it.
Another way of looking at melanoma is the same as any kinds of cancer, the most important factor to determine survival and prognosis is the stage of the tumour. Early melanoma such as melanoma in situ can be cured with a definitive surgical treatment whereas late stage melanoma can be fatal or associated with very poor outcome. Therefore it is vitally important to present to your doctor or specialized clinics such as our clinic if you have any concerns with your moles or any changes of your moles. Our aim is to make sure no one walks out of our clinic with an undiagnosed skin cancer especially melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
It is the commonest type of skin cancer and represents 65% to 80% of skin cancer. It occurs most commonly on the face and neck with raising incidence on the trunk in recent years. Appearances of basal cell carcinomas are often small round or flatten in shape and red, pale or pearly in colour. It typically affects individuals between the ages of 40 and 79 years. BCCs usually grow slowly but can become locally invasive and penetrate deeper tissue causing significant tissue destruction and disfigurement. Metastasis of this type of cancer is rare.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. It usually arises in an area that has had some premalignant change such as solar keratosis secondary to sun damage. There is a strong correlation with damage to the skin by the sun and can be experimentally produced by ultraviolet light. The appearances of these tumours are more inflammatory, indurated and ulcerate sooner compared with BCC.