Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world that we see today. In this country, we see 3 million cases per year, the most dangerous being melanoma, where we see over 100,000 cases per year.
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
The survival rates of skin cancer are actually very good. For a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, it should be 98 plus percent or even higher. For melanoma, we’re fortunate that it’s at least 90 percent, including the aggressive melanomas.
The key to skin cancer is early diagnosis, just like it is in other cancers. If you have a changing lesion, you should be checked by your doctor so we can make the diagnosis early.
Skin cancer is treated in a variety of ways. The most common way is surgery. On occasion, radiation, sometimes creams, sometimes injectables are used. But surgery is the mainstay for treating skin cancer.
Skin cancer is more common in people that have fair skin, light-colored eyes, and people that live in areas like San Diego, where there’s a lot more sunshine.
If you have had skin cancer and it’s been treated effectively, that skin cancer will not come back. But you are at higher risk for developing another skin cancer somewhere on your body.
The most common areas for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are where you’ve had the most sun during your lifetime, including your face, your neck, your forearms, the backs of your hands. Malignant melanoma is a little bit different. It’s where you’ve had sunburns, most commonly the chest, the back and the lower legs in ladies.