Skin cancer starts in the cells of the skin. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor. Growths or tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign growths are not life threatening, do not spread, and can be removed. Malignant growths are cancerous lesions that can invade nearby tissues and organs. However, the two most common types of skin cancer cause only about one out of every thousand deaths from cancer.
The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell. These types of cancer usually form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms but they can occur anywhere. Basal cell skin cancer grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell skin cancer sometimes spreads to lymph nodes and other organs inside the body. Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early.
The most common sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin. This can be anything from a new growth, a sore that doesn't heal, or a change in an old growth. Some of the things you should look out for include:
Checking your skin for new growths or other changes is a good preventative measure. If you are unsure about a suspicious change you should see a dermatologist who has special training in the diagnosis and treatment of skin problems.