The Skin Surgery Center offers comprehensive, full body skin exams as well as site checks if you
have a specific area you are concerned about. Yearly skin cancer screening is advised, especially
for those patients at risk (personal or family history of skin cancer; fair skin; history of
excessive lifetime sun exposure; history of blistering sun burns; other). Please contact us if
you wish to schedule an appointment for a skin cancer screening.
Skin Cancer is by far the most common malignant tumor in humans. The most common types of
skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell
carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma begin as a single point in the upper layers of the
skin and slowly enlarge, spreading both along the surface and downward. These extensions
cannot always be directly seen. The tumor often extends far beyond what is visible on the
surface of the skin. If not completely removed, both types of skin cancer may invade and
destroy structures in their path. Although these skin cancers are locally destructive, they
do not tend to metastasize (spread) to distant parts of the body. Metastasis of basal cell
carcinoma is extremely rare. Squamous cell carcinoma is slightly more dangerous, and patients
must be observed for any spread of the tumor. Such spread is still infrequent. Melanoma is a
very different and potentially more dangerous kind of skin cancer if it is not adequately
treated in its early phases.
Excessive exposure to sunlight is the single most important factor associated with the
development of skin cancers. In addition, the tendency to develop these cancers appears to be
hereditary in certain ethnic groups, especially those with fair complexions and poor tanning
abilities. Fair-skinned people develop skin cancers more frequently than dark-skinned people,
and the more sun exposure they receive, the more likely they are to develop a skin cancer.
Other factors, including exposure to radiation, trauma and exposure to certain chemicals
may also be involved in the development of skin cancers.
The vast majority of skin cancers are present for more than a year before being diagnosed
and their growth is rather slow. Skin cancers may be more aggressive in certain instances:
patients whose immune system is compromised, patients with a medical history of leukemia or
lymphoma, cancers in certain locations such as the ear, lips, lower nose, or around the