Skin Cancer - Describe Your Experience

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Introduction

Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer. It is estimated that over 2 million new cases occur annually. The annual rates of all forms of skin cancer are increasing each year, representing a growing public concern. It has also been estimated that nearly half of all Americans who live to age 65 will develop skin cancer at least once.

The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change in the appearance of the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that will not heal.

The term "skin cancer" refers to three different conditions. From the least to the most dangerous, they are:

  • basal cell carcinoma (or basal cell carcinoma epithelioma)
  • squamous cell carcinoma (the first stage of which is called actinic keratosis)
  • melanoma

The two most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Together, these two are also referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is generally the most serious form of skin cancer because it tends to spread (metastasize) throughout the body quickly. Skin cancer is also known as skin neoplasia.

This article will discuss the two kinds of nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Skin Cancer
Return to Skin Cancer

See what others are saying

Comment from: Mimi, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: April 09

I was diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer yesterday. Five weeks ago, I spent a week in Florida. Only two of those days were warm enough to wear short sleeves. While I was there, I noticed a spot on my arm that got red and irritated looking. After I got home, I called the dermatologist and saw him three weeks later. By then the area got bigger and part of the top formed a scab, which fell off and created a hole that bled. The dermatologist called me yesterday and said it was a small squamous cell skin cancer, and since it was removed, this is probably the only treatment. I have another appointment in two and a half months for a follow-up. I had a melanoma on my thigh six years ago. I had a wide excision and follow-up with blood work and chest X-rays for five years. I am very fair (100% Irish) and got a lot of sunburns when I was a kid. I would just like to encourage people to not ignore anything on their skin because the sooner it is removed, the better the outcome. And I am still shocked at how quickly this came on and that it is cancer. It is scary to hear the word cancer in your diagnosis, and it does help to talk to other people who have gone through the same thing. I'm happy to report that I'm doing well and am encouraged that this new skin cancer was caught early.

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Comment from: Riley, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: November 14

I'm not actually a skin cancer patient, but I'm writing this about my girlfriend, because her case is so strange that I thought it would be interesting to tell people about it. She has basal cell carcinoma on her eyebrow and eyelid that started years ago from an eyebrow wound that must have healed wrong. For years we thought that the shiny hairless lump was just scar tissue, but it caused her pain and bled a lot. Recently she went in for surgery, where a hard cyst-like substance was removed from her eyebrow. Then the skin tests came back positive for cancer. So she got another surgery and they got out as much as they could, but there is still a lot left that they were unable to remove. She has been to several specialists and meetings but no one is sure yet how to proceed because radiation therapy could cause problems with her eye. If one of us had seen pictures of basal cell carcinoma years ago, we would have recognized it and some of this might have been prevented.

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