Types of Skin Cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

The skin is the body’s largest organ, protecting muscles and tissue from the damaging effects of weather, trauma, and more. According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. Protecting your skin from the sun can help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. It’s important to know skin cancer signs and symptoms in order to know when to seek professional treatment.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the development of cancerous (malignant) cells and tissues in the skin. These cancers can develop anywhere on the body, but tend to occur where skin has been exposed to sunlight.

Types of Skin Cancer

The skin may look like a single layer from the outside, but it is actually made up of several layers. There are 3 main skin cancer types, each of which occurs in a different layer of the skin:

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Cancer that forms in the squamous cells, the layer of cells which forms the topmost layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): Cancer that occurs in the basal cells, the cells directly below the squamous cells.
  • Melanoma: Cancer that affects melanocytes, the cells which are responsible for the skin’s pigment and color.
Click to enlarge. Diagram courtesy of CDC.gov

Image courtesy of CDC.gov

These cancers are grouped into two categories: melanoma and non-melanoma cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancers, squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, are slower growing and do not tend to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma cancer is rare, but is also the most dangerous because it grows quickly and metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body.

Actinic Keratosis, while not a type of skin cancer, is a skin condition that may become cancerous. As such, it is often treated like cancer as a preventative measure.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

There are 6 main types of skin cancer treatment. The type of treatment used will depend on the type of skin cancer that is present. Your doctor may recommend one or a combination of therapies to treat your skin cancer.Skin cancer signs and symptoms

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Photodynamic Therapy
  • Biologic Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Radiation Therapy

At Blue Ridge Radiation Oncology, we use external radiation therapy to treat skin cancer.

Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy beams of radiation to damage the DNA of cancer cells, shrinking tumors or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.

External beam radiation therapy is used to treat skin cancer. During this procedure, highly precise beams of radiation targets the cancerous cells, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Minimizing damage to healthy tissue can both improve patient recovery time and may reduce the severity of side effects.

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AnMed Cancer Center, 2000 E Greenville St, Anderson, SC 29621

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