An estimated one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer by far. The disease, which affects one in five people at some point in their lives, can develop on all skin types. Board-certified dermatologist Roy Stern Seidenberg, MD is a skin cancer expert who provides comprehensive skin cancer screenings, diagnosis, and treatment options at his top-tier practice in Manhattan, New York City. To learn more, call or book your appointment online today.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the two types of skin cancer that occur most often.
BCC is by far the most common form of skin cancer — more than four million Americans are diagnosed with BCC every year.
Basal skin cells make up the deepest part of the epidermis, or your outermost layer of skin. A BCC is any abnormal, uncontrolled growth or lesion that starts within this layer.
SCC is the second most prevalent form of skin cancer, affecting more than a million Americans each year.
Squamous cells make up the uppermost part of your epidermis. SCC occurs when abnormal cells arise within that layer and begin to grow uncontrollably.
Both types of skin cancer can be caused by cumulative exposure to ultraviolet light over time, or by briefer instances of intense exposure. Both types can also be caused by tanning bed use.
Although BCC and SCC can appear virtually anywhere on your body, they mostly develop on the areas of skin that get the most sun exposure.
It’s fortunate that melanoma isn’t the most common form of skin cancer, because it is the most problematic: When melanoma goes undetected, it can spread quickly to other parts of your body.
Melanoma, which develops from unrepaired DNA damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, may appear suddenly or evolve from an existing mole. When this unrepaired damage prompts mutations in your skin cells, it causes them to multiply rapidly and form tumors.
Untreated melanoma can spread to your lymphatic system and even your internal organs, making it much more difficult to treat. Fortunately, melanomas that are diagnosed early are often very treatable.
An actinic keratosis (AK) is a rough skin patch that develops following years of sun exposure. They can be as small as a pinhead or as large as a quarter, and range in color from skin-toned to pink to reddish brown.
AKs, which affect about 58 million Americans, typically take years to develop, emerging slowly and causing no symptoms other than their appearance.
Although most of these growths remain benign, a small percentage progress to SCC. Because there’s no way to know which AKs will become cancerous, early diagnosis and treatment are important.
Skin cancer may take the form of a changing or otherwise unusual-looking mole; it may also appear as a dome-shaped growth, scaly patch, or non-healing sore.
The ABCDEs of atypical moles are:
If you notice an abnormal looking spot on your skin, or of you have a spot that has changed, itches, or bleeds, you should see Dr. Seidenberg.