Understanding Skin Cancer
Living in the Sunshine State is wonderful, but too much of a good thing can cause skin damage, including skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. It begins on the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis, and is most often caused by overexposure to UV light including sunlight and artificial UV light from tanning beds. However, skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body even if it wasn’t exposed heavily to UV light.
The main types of skin cancer include:
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but tends to spread quicker than squamous cell or basal cell carcinomas.
If you have already received a skin cancer diagnosis, reviewing this section's important information about diagnosis, staging, and treatment options is a good first step before meeting with the oncologist. At Cancer Care Centers of Brevard you will have a team of skin cancer specialists working together to determine the best treatment options after learning more about your specific type of skin cancer and your lifestyle. And remember to protect yourself while you’re outside. It goes a long way to reduce your risk of developing additional new skin cancers in the future.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
The more you know about skin cancer risks, the easier it can be to reduce your risk–or at least detect cancer early when it’s easier to treat. Having a risk factor (or factors) does not guarantee that you will develop skin cancer. But being in Florida, you’re likely to have a lot of UV light exposure which is good for your mood, but dangerous over the long run for your skin.
Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer
With skin cancer diagnoses in 2018 at 7.1% of Floridians, knowing the signs and symptoms is important. Be sure you know your risks and protect yourself whenever possible. Being aware of the warning signs and knowing when to see a doctor to have a potential problem looked at can help with early detection and more effective skin cancer treatment.
How to Detect Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and Florida ranks second in the nation for the highest rate of new melanoma cases. It is important to know what to look for can help catch it early when it’s much easier to treat.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis
In most cases skin cancer is identified first by a general practitioner or a dermatologist as an abnormal area on the skin. However, they won’t know if it’s cancerous or not until it’s removed and tested. This is a biopsy. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
Knowing which type of skin cancer you have is important because it will affect your skin cancer treatment options. Skin cancers most often form on skin that has been exposed to the sun, including on your head, face, neck, hands, and arms. But skin cancer can occur anywhere, including areas that aren’t normally exposed to the sun.
Skin Cancer Staging
If the biopsy shows that you have skin cancer you will be referred to a cancer specialist, known as an oncologist. Whether melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancer, your oncologist needs to know the extent (stage) of the disease. Staging is a careful attempt to learn how thick the tumor is, and if it has spread.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
There are several ways to approach skin cancer treatment. You typically will not need all of the treatment types described in this section. Your skin cancer specialist will determine what types of treatment may be needed given the type of skin cancer, stage of cancer, and your overall health.