Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in humans. It is thought to be caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation. The lighter the skin color, the more risk of developing precancerous skin lesions and skin cancers. Patients who burn from the sun without tanning are at the higher risk. Patients with dark skin are not completely protected from developing skin cancers, although these lesions often form in different sites on the body from light skin patients. Skin cancers can develop on sun protected skin, so direct sun exposure must not always be needed to form these lesions.
Sunlight protection is still the best prevention in development of precancerous skin lesions, and skin cancers. Early detection and treatment is of paramount importance.
The most common type of precancerous skin lesions are actinic keratoses and some types of dysplastic nevi.
THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF SKIN CANCER INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
Other, less common types of skin cancer include Lymphoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, Kaposi's Sarcoma.
Treatment for skin cancer can vary widely, depending on the type of cancer, severity, frequency of occurrence, and location on the body. Surgical removal is the treatment of choice, either done in the office, or by Mohs surgery, or excision with possible lymph node screening. Precancerous lesions, such as actinic keratoses, can be treated with liquid nitrogen, laser, photodynamic therapy, fluorouracil and other creams, and other topical modalities. Some of these modalities are also used for prevention.
Early diagnosis is important for the successful treatment of skin cancer, and patients should be screened according to risk. Twice a year skin screenings, for those patients with lots of pigmented skin lesions, and those with a family history of skin cancer. Self examination of one's skin lesions, on a monthly basis, is a great aid in early diagnosis.
Patients should always consult a dermatologist, when they notice any irregular signs in a pigmented skin lesion, such as changes in color, shape, size, itching, bleeding, or ulceration.
Sunlight avoidance, and use and frequent reapplications of sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 should be part of everyone's routine.