Skin cancer occurs when skin cells start growing abnormally and cause cancerous growths. Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly in sun-exposed areas such as the face, head, hands, arms, and legs. It is usually easy to detect by examining the skin, and early detection increases the chances of early treatment and survival.
Almost all skin cancers start as small, low-risk lesions, but can grow and become high-risk lesions if left untreated.
Types of Skin Cancer
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most alarming type because it has a higher risk of invading surrounding tissues or spreading to other parts of the body (metastasis) before being detected. Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers are more likely to be detected and treated effectively before becoming malignant.
Diagnosing cancer typically requires a biopsy, in which a small piece of skin is removed for examination under a microscope and evaluated with other tests.
Skin Cancer Treatment
There are several different types of skin cancer, and in general, the treatment plan is based on the risk of the cancer spreading to another location or growing again (recurring) in the same location. Skin cancers that are likely to spread or recur are treated more aggressively.
Skin cancer treatment options may include medications such as Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or 5-fluorouracil, or procedures with higher cure rates including excision, electrodesiccation-curettage, and Mohs surgery. Skin cancer prevention and treatment is a top priority at Dermatology Clinic of Idaho, and our Board-Certified Dermatologist works closely with you to select a treatment method best suited for your specific case.