What Is Skin Cancer and How Does It Develop?

Skin cancer first develops in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Usually, it develops as a result of too much exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s easy to develop the disease after being exposed to the sun without protective sunscreen, especially in very sunny areas like Carson City and Reno, Nevada. However, skin cancer is one of the most easily curable types of cancer because it is one of the easiest to detect.

Types of Skin Cancer

It’s important to know the different types of skin cancer if you believe you may have the disease. A dermatologist can diagnose you with one of the following:

• Basal cell carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and makes up 80 to 85 percent of all cases of the disease. It develops from the basal cells, which are found in the lowest portion of the epidermis.

• Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma affects the top layers of the skin or keratinocytes and makes up around 10 percent of all cases of skin cancer.

• Melanoma: Melanoma makes up five percent of all skin cancer cases and comes from the melanocytes, the skin cells that create melanin or pigment. It is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the most deadly.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and Merkel cell carcinoma are two more types of skin cancer. These are the rarest types.

Development of Skin Cancer

If the affected area of skin cells stay clustered in a single group, the risk of developing skin cancer is generally low. However, there is a higher risk of the disease when the cells invade tissues surrounding the area. The higher-risk forms of skin cancer need more aggressive treatment.

Nearly all types of skin cancer start off as low risk, but if the lesions grow, they can become higher risk. Melanoma is the most serious type because it carries a far greater risk of invading surrounding tissues and spreading to other parts of the body before it is detected.

Causes of Skin Cancer

As much as 90 percent of all cases of skin cancer are caused by long-term exposure to the sun’s UV rays, which give off radiation. This radiation damages the DNA within the skin and leads to abnormalities in the skin cells. Under normal circumstances, the body can repair the damage to the DNA, but this cannot happen when there has been long-term exposure to UV radiation. The damaged skin cells replicate, which results in even more abnormal skin cells appearing with damaged DNA. This is how skin cancer can start.

If you are in the Northern Nevada area and want to be checked for skin cancer, contact Carson Dermatology at your earliest convenience.