Frequently, two or more features are present in one tumor. Because basal cell carcinoma (BCC) can sometimes resembles non-cancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema it is always wise to seek a medical opinion if you are concerned about a spot.
The vast majority of BCCs can be cured. Unlike other forms of cancer.
BCCs do not spread to lymph glands or other organs. If discovered early treatment have a 95% chance of cure, but the presence of one BCC does increase the chance that you may develop others – so be vigilant and consult your doctor with concerns.
There are a number of treatment options for basal cell carcinoma:
- Currettage: For very small BCCs this is a very effective treatment. Under a local anaesthetic your doctor can simply scrape the lesion away from your skin. This might leave a small scar.
- Surgery: Many BCCs can be cut out. The BCC can be tests by a pathologist who will be able to determine whether it has been completely remove. This give you the confidence in knowing that it has been cured.
- Radiotherapy: Treating BCCs with a very short and localised course of X-ray treatment has been shown to be as effective in curing BCCs. Many patients choose this option as it avoids an operation.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
SCCs can present as a scaly red patch, ulcer, raised nodule with a central depression, or warts. They may have crust and can bleed.
SCC is mainly caused by sun exposure over the course of a lifetime and therefore is generally seen in late life. SCCs are most common in areas where skin is exposed to sunlight such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs.
Treatment can vary depending on the appearance and location of the lesion. Many can resemble sun damage skin and are of a low grade. If small and superficial currettage laser ablation and topical treatment with Efudix or Imiquimod may be effective. Plastic Surgery may be needed for larger more worrying some tumours especially if they lie in an awkward site of the body.
Malignant melanoma start either in normal skin or from a mole. It is most commonly seen in patients who have a history of sun exposure (where the number of sunburn episodes increases risk), in those who have a propensity to sunburn (skin type I and II) and in those who have a close family member with melanoma. It is most common between 40 to 60 years of age.
Those with more than 50 moles and which have an atypical appearance are also at increased risk. Melanoma can arise in patients who have had organ transplant. Rarely it can be seen in a condition known as Xeroderma Pigmentosa.
There are 4 main types of malignant melanoma:
- Superficial Spreading (most common, 70% of cases)
- Nodular (10-20% of cases)
- Acral Lentiginous (5% of cases)
- Lentigo Maligna Melanoma (5% of cases)
If you think that a mole is getting bigger, changing colour or is irregular you should seek medical advise. Itching, bleeding or redness of the skin around the mole are also cause for concern.