Skin Cancer

People with fair-skin are at higher risk for skin cancers; however, all skin types are at risk for skin cancer development.

Three layers of skin

The epidermis is composed of dead keratinocytes that are continually shed. The living keratinocytes, or squamous cells, produce keratin. Melanocytes in the epidermis produce the protective pigment called melanin.
The dermis is thicker than the epidermis and contains nerves, blood vessels, hair follicles and sweat glands.
The subcutis, the deepest layer of skin, is made of fat cells and collagen that conserve heat and protect organs from injury.

Two groups of skin cancers

Non-melanoma cancers, basal and squamous cell cancers, are the most common skin cancers. Non-melanoma cancers may, but generally do not, spread to other parts of the body. While these cancers may not metastasize, they are very destructive and need to be treated early.

Treatment options include:

  • Electrodessiciation (cell destruction by heat)
  • Cryosurgery (cell destruction by freezing)
  • Surgery
  • Mono micrographic surgery (removal minimizing scar size)

Melanoma cancers start in the melanocytes, the cells that produce skin pigment called melanin. Melanoma tumors appear as brown or black spots. They are less common than non-melanoma cancers, but much more serious. Melanoma cancers are likely to spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.

Treatment options include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy