Not all skin cancers are the same, melanoma has the greatest potential to spread quickly and be fatal.
Melanoma represents five percent of skin cancers but causes 85% of the skin cancer deaths. Treatment is almost always surgical excision and may combine radiation therapy and chemo therapy.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (from the Latin scaly, looks like fish scales under microscope) is the next most dangerous as it can also spread internally and can spread to skin from an internal cancer. This can also arise from the transformation of an actinic keratosis to SCC. Treatment can be surgical or cryosurgery depending on the tumor stage. In rare advanced cases of squamous cell carcinoma other adjuncts are used.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is usually localized and in very rare instances can spread internally. BCC can be treated by surgical excision, electrodessication and curettage and superficially with topical chemotherapy.
The key to successful treatment is early diagnosis, frequent self screening and skin cancer surveillance by a board certified Dermatologist at an interval determined by the patient’s history, family history and sun exposure history.