Skin Cancer

Chances are, you know someone who’s had skin cancer. It affects millions of Americans every year, making it the most common kind of cancer. And if it’s caught early, it’s also one of the most treatable cancers.

However, like any cancer, skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body. It can become life-threatening if not treated quickly and appropriately.

What is Skin Cancer? 

Your skin is made of thin layers of fat and tissue. The part of your skin you can see is the epidermis. It contains three kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells make up the outer part of your epidermis. Your body constantly sheds them.
  • Basal cells produce new skin cells to replace those that have shed.
  • Melanocytes produce a pigment (melanin) that gives your skin its color. If you’ve ever had a tan, it’s because these cells produce extra melanin in response to sunlight.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells begins to grow abnormally. There are three main kinds of skin cancer, each named for the cell where it began:

Skin cancer usually occurs in areas that have had a lot of sun exposure. That’s because the ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight harms our skin cells. But, skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body—even parts that are rarely exposed to the sun. That’s why doctors recommend you have regular skin exams.

Your primary care doctor or a dermatologist can check your skin during routine medical visits. They can check areas that are hard for you to see, like your scalp and back.

Between medical exams, you should regularly check your own skin. When you’re familiar with the look and feel of your skin, you can identify changes to moles, freckles and other marks. You should report any skin changes to your doctor.

Skin Cancer Treatment at Mercy

Whether you’re concerned about your skin cancer risk or a new red bump on your nose, Mercy can help. Our team has experience screening for skin cancer, and diagnosing and treating all forms of it. We’ve helped countless people overcome skin cancer—and continue to safely enjoy the sun.

If you have skin cancer, your treatment strategy will depend on several factors. These include the type of skin cancer you have and whether it has spread. Your doctor may recommend you have one or more types of treatment, including:

  • Medication, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy drugs
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Cryotherapy
  • Surgery, including excision surgery, Mohs surgery and skin grafting

Mercy will do more than take care of your skin cancer. We’ll also take care of you. Once you’re cancer-free, we’ll help you maintain lifelong skin health—and reduce the risk of your skin cancer returning.

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