What to look for

Skin cancer can appear as a new growth or bump on the skin. The growth may be a pink scaly lesion or shiny bump. It may bleed or scab without any trauma or appear as a pimple that persists over several months. Melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, can appear as a new mole that is growing, or in an existing mole that is changing. It is important that you take part in checking over your skin. Knowing what is different or what may be changing can save your life.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is the most common cancer in humans. It is rarely life-threatening. More typically these lesions are slow growing but can be a serious problem if growth occurs around areas such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. Basal cell carcinomas most likely arise from a skin cell line damaged many years ago.

Clinically these lesions appear as areas of redness that are present for months or areas where the skin becomes easily irritated and bleeds easily. Occasionally they can appear as a pearly papule or nodule. A biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. There are several different subtypes of BCC.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is the second most common that we see in dermatologic practices. Many of these lesions arise from actinic keratoses located on sun-exposed skin. Generally, they may appear as eczema, or a crusty, thicker lesion that begins to grow. Occasionally, the change can be dramatic with a rapid growth of a nodular lesion. More commonly, the sun-damage keratosis grows gradually and become a larger.

Metastasis or internal spread is relatively rare from this type of skin cancer, especially when these occur on sun-exposed skin. Exceptions to this spread can be seen with lesions on ears, mucous membranes such as the lips, mouth, and genital areas as well as skin cancers located on sun-protected skin. People at greater risk with occurrence of squamous cell carcinomas and risk of metastasis are those that have organ transplants, or other diseases that compromise their immune system enough that it dysregulates the cells and cancer occurs.

Malignant Melanoma

While this is the least common of the skin cancers, it can be the most lethal. This tumor arises in a clone of abnormal pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. This can rapidly transform and spread internally through the bloodstream and lymphatic channels of the body. This type of cancer can be associated with fair-skinned individuals, who often have a history of sun burning, but anyone is susceptible. Studies are showing an increase in skin cancer in Latinos.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends at the age of thirty, you start yearly full-body examinations.

ABCDEs of Melanoma

A: Asymmetry
B: Border irregularity
C: Color change or multiple colors
D: Diameter change
E: Evolution

Our Skin Cancer Prevention Services

  • Full body skin exams

  • Photodynamic Therapy
  • Mole checks

  • Skin biopsies

  • Sunscreen and sun-protective clothing for purchase

“Be good to your skin. You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life.”

Reno Tahoe Dermatology serves Reno, Sparks, Spanish Springs, Sun Valley, Lake Tahoe in Northern Nevada & East California.

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