A skin tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue. Most are benign (harmless) but sometimes the tumors may be malignant (cancerous). Because skin cancers are most successfully treated when detected early, uncertain skin growths or lesions should not be ignored.
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It often occurs on skin that has been damaged by sunlight. The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, with melanoma being the most aggressive and deadly form.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Fortunately, with early detection and treatment, it is often very curable.
Brown spots, moles, and skin growths on the skin are usually harmless — but not always. It’s important to check your skin regularly and look for any changes in the moles on your body. Recognize for the ABCDE signs of skin cancer, and if you see one or more, make an appointment with a physician immediately.
A – Asymmetry: The two halves of the mole do not match.
B – Border: The edges are uneven, ragged or blurred.
C – Color: Harmless moles are one color, often brown. Different shades of tan, black, or even pink, purples or white colors can indicate cancer.
D – Diameter: If a mole is larger in diameter than ¼ inch (the size of a pencil eraser), and especially if it is growing, it should be evaluated.
E – Evolving: Be on the alert when a mole starts to change in any way – size, shape, color, or symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.
AM I AT RISK?
Regardless of your skin color, anyone can get skin cancer.
Factors that may increase your risk are:
- Excessive sun exposure
- Fair skin
- A large number of moles on your skin
- Family or history of skin cancer
- A weakened immune system
Surgery is a common treatment for skin cancers such as basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Your surgical treatment options depend on the type and size of the skin cancer, its location on your body and your overall health. For aggressive skin cancers, surgery may be followed with other treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy.
The most common types of surgeries used to treat skin cancers include:
- Excision: The growth and its surrounding border of tissue are removed.
- Curettage and Electrodesiccation: The growth is scraped off and the tumor site is treated with an electric needle to destroy remaining cancer cells. This technique is normally for smaller legions.
- Lymph Node Surgery: Lymph nodes are removed to check for cancer or if cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes.
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery: Thin layers of tissue containing the tumor are removed and examined. If cancer cells are seen, additional layers of tissues are removed and examined until the skin samples are free of cancer cells. This technique helps spare healthy tissue and is often used in critical areas such as the face, ears or fingers.
After surgery stiches may be used to close small excisions, while large excisions or those located on the hands, face or feet may require a skin graft to close the wound.
- Examine your skin monthly to look for new or changing moles and spots. See a physician immediately if you notice changes or have symptoms such as itching or bleeding.
- Avoid tanning and tanning beds
- Use sunscreen!
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