Types of Skin Cancer & Treatment Options

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common type of skin cancer and most often develops on areas that receive a lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and arms. However, it can also develop on other parts of the body that do not get sun exposure.

This is often a slow-growing skin cancer and may look like:

  • Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
  • Flesh-colored (or pink, red, or brown) pearl-shaped lump
  • Pimple that just won’t clear up
  • Sore that bleeds, heals and then returns
  • Scar that feels waxy - may be skin-colored, white, or yellow
  • Group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths - look like sores, often scaly and bleed easily
  • Flat or sunken growth - feels hard, may be white or yellow

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
This is also a very common type of skin cancer. It often appears on skin that receives lots of sun, such as ears, face, bald scalp, neck or arm. This type of cancer can also appear elsewhere - even inside the mouth, on the lip or on the genitals.

Too much sun exposure is often the cause, but it can appear on skin that was badly burned, had lots of radiation (such as x-rays) or was exposed to strong chemicals.

SCC often has a reddish color and without treatment it can grow deeply and spread to other parts of the body. This can be deadly depending on where the cancer is located and where it spreads.

SCC often looks like a:

  • Hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch, or pearl-shaped growth
  • Open sore that itches and bleeds; it can heal and return
  • Scaly patch on the lip; skin on the lip can get thick

Treatment Options
If you find something suspicious that has any of the qualities listed above, see a dermatologist for examination.  A biopsy will be performed and the growth will be examined under a microscope to determine if cancer is present.

Early stage basal and squamous cell cancers can be treated in most cases by a surgical excision, freezing, scraping or with radiation therapy. Few people realize that radiation therapy has been used to treat skin cancers for decades and is often an overlooked treatment option for basal or squamous cell cancers.

For patients with basal or squamous cell cancers who wish to avoid surgery, Superficial Electron Beam Radiation Therapy may be an option. This type of non-invasive treatment is approved by Medicare and insurance carriers, and offers excellent clinical and cosmetic results for cancers found on the face, including the nose, ears, eyelids or extremities - often in places where surgery could leave cosmetic changes. A dedicated and experienced team is necessary to deliver targeted electron beam radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells while shielding normal tissue. The daily treatment is painless, takes a few minutes each day and does not require any anesthesia or change in medications and should be discussed with your doctor.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, make certain you discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor or call the Radiation Oncology Department at Jupiter Medical Center to learn more about the electron beam radiotherapy non-surgical treatment option. We can be reached at (561) 263-4400.