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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Cancer » Article

Skin Cancer Symptoms + Treatments

By Chris Chenoweth

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and is increasing in frequency every year. Because it is curable if diagnosed early, you should be aware of the symptoms and treatments.


Our skin protects our body from injury and infection and regulates our body temperature. It is the body's largest organ and is made up of two main layers, the outer layer called the epidermis and the inner layer called the dermis.

The outer layer contains three kinds of cells, squamous cells which are flat and scaly cells on the surface, basal cells which are round cells located under the squamous cells and melanocytes (the cells that create the brown pigment that gives skin its color) that are located throughout the basal layer.


There are two types of skin cancer, non-melanoma and melanoma. Non-melanomas are the most common types and most easily cured. Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous form and the most difficult to treat.

Melanomas develop from skin cells called melanocytes. A melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin but is more likely to develop on certain parts of the body such as the legs for women and the trunk of the body for men.

Melanoma is much less common than the non-melanoma types but it is usually far more serious. Melanoma is almost always curable in its early stages. But, unlike the non-melanoma types of skin cancer, it spreads to other parts of the body making it very difficult to treat.

Non-melanomas include two types of cancer, basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers. They are called non-melanomas because they develop from skin cells other than melanocytes. The high incidence of these cancers is related to over-exposure to the sun.

Basal cell cancer is the most common type of skin cancer and it occurs in the deepest layer of the skin. It is easier to cure than melanoma and it does not usually spread to other parts of the body.

Squamous cell skin cancer develops in the upper layer of the skin. It can spread to deeper layers of the skin and occasionally can spread to lymph nodes and other organs.


The following are warning signs of basal and squamous cell carcinoma. A mole, skin growth, or sore that:

+changes in color and appears translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored.

+is bigger than other moles.

+becomes red or inflamed around the edges.

+increases in size or thickness.

+changes in texture

+changes in shape

+is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser

+becomes painful, itchy, crusty, or forms a scab

+starts oozing or bleeding


If you have any of the symptoms listed above and they are present for more than a month, you must see a doctor for further evaluation. If the doctor agrees with your suspicions, a skin biopsy (the surgical removal of part of the tissue from the suspicious growth) will be performed. The type of skin cancer, where it is located, and the size of the affected area will determine the skin biopsy method used.

Once the tissue is examined, a diagnosis is made. You and your physician can then discuss treatment options. There are many treatments available, including curettage, surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The treatment chosen is dependent upon the type of skin cancer that is diagnosed.

Remember, skin cancer is the most curable form of cancer if diagnosed and treated in its early stages. Know the symptoms, perform a self-exam every month, and see your physician if you have any suspicious skin growths.
About the Author
Chris Chenoweth is the author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, 500 pages of household tips, home remedies, diet and nutrition information, health issues and thousands of recipes!

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