Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer seen in humans. It is often caused by prolonged exposure to the sun, which emits UV rays that can cause abnormal growth of skin cells. There are several different types of skin cancer in Estes Park.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, typically looks like a pinkish skin patch or pearl-like, flesh-toned bump. While it most commonly develops on places that get a lot of sun exposure, like the head, arms, or neck, it can also develop on the legs, abdomen, or chest. A basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and rarely metastasizes or spreads to another part of the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It is usually red and can look like a scaly patch of skin, a hard bump, or a sore that heals and then reopens. Like basal cell carcinoma, it most often develops on places that get a lot of exposure to the sun. It can disfigure the patient by growing deep in their skin. It does sometimes spread to other parts of the body, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
Melanoma can either develop within an existing mole or appear as a new dark spot on the skin. Melanoma lethality is due to the fact that is the most likely to spread to other parts of the body. A patient’s chances improve significantly if the melanoma is caught and cured before it has metastasized.
Patients in Estes Park should, therefore, learn the ABCDE rules for spotting a possible melanoma:
A for Asymmetry – One half of the mole doesn’t match the other half
B for Border – The mole has an irregular or poorly defined margin
C for Color – The mole varies in color and/or shade from one side to the other
D for Diameter – A melanoma will usually have a diameter bigger than a pencil’s eraser
E for Evolving – The mole has been growing, turning colors or otherwise changing
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that affects the Merkel cells near the skin’s nerve endings. Merkel cell carcinomas are most likely to develop on the face, but they can occur on other parts of the body. They generally look like firm bumps that can be purple, red or pink.