Skin Cancer: FAQs
- What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. As with all cancers, it is important to catch skin cancers early for a better chance to beat the disease quickly.
- What is basal and squamous skin cancer?
These are the most common types of skin cancer, and they are usually caused by too much sun exposure. Most often, this type of skin cancer shows up on the arms, neck, and head.
- What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a less common skin cancer, but it can also be more serious. It develops in the melanocytes, which are the skin cells that create melanin, or a tan/brown color. Moles are created by these same melanocytes, which is why it’s important to monitor any moles you have and have any irregularities examined by a doctor.
- What is Merkel Skin Cancer?
Merkel Skin Cancer is also called Merkel Cell Carcinoma. This type of cancer attacks Merkel cells, which are located very close to nerve endings and hormone-making cells. This type of cancer also seems to be caused by over-exposure to the sun. If you have purple or pink lumps, particularly if those have become open or ulcerated, you should see a doctor.
- How can I be safe in the sun?
The American Cancer Society offers excellent explanations of how exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer as well as how to be safe when you go to the beach or otherwise enjoy the outdoors.
- How do I monitor for skin cancer?
If you have areas of concern, it is best to start with a doctor or dermatologist. However, the American Cancer Society offers great step-by-step instructions on how you can do your own skin monitoring, too.
- What is the treatment for skin cancer?
As is so often the case, treatment depends on where your cancer is located, how severe it is, and other factors. You may need to undergo surgery to have the carcinoma removed, or your doctor may prescribe a very targeted medication. Cryotherapy and radiation can also be used.