Skin Cancers


Skin Cancers

Basal cell or basocellular carcinoma (BCC)
A basocellular carcinoma resembles a shiny pimple that grows slowly, or a small,
painless wound that does not heal, sometimes surrounded by a fold of fat. It can
resemble a small, whitish zone, similar to a spontaneous scar, which grows
gradually. The BCC is the most frequent, non malignant, skin cancer that usually
develops on the face (nose, cheeks, temples, forehead, auricles) but can develop
anywhere on the body.
Although these lesions are classified among the skin cancers, the malignancy of
a BCC is very limited and it only concerns a locally (at the level of the skin)
destructive cancer without risk of metastasis. However, if left untreated, they can
ulcerate and grow larger. Late diagnosis can also lead to more extensive surgery,
which can sometimes result in mutilating scars.

Spinocellular carcinoma (SCC)
A spinocellular carcinoma usually looks like a pimply crust, which eventually
starts to bleed. It can arise from an untreated actinic keratosis. Unlike basal cell
carcinomas, spinocellular carcinomas can metastasize, but generally they are not
very aggressive tumors and metastases are very rare. When they metastasize,
they usually do so to the nearest lymph nodes. A SCC can cause significant
damage if left untreated.
The choice of treatment depends on the cancer type (confirmed by microscopic
analysis after a skin biopsy), the size of the tumor, the location, the age of the
patient and his general condition. Minor lesions are usually surgically removed
under local anaesthesia. If the type, size and location of the lesion permits, the
intervention takes place within our practice. If the treatment requires a larger
infrastructure, the patient is addressed to UZ Gasthuisberg for Mohs surgery with
Dr Darcis.

Photodynamic therapy is a possible treatment in certain types of minor SCC.
After appropriate treatment, the chances of a cure are very high. People with a
skin carcinoma must have regular check-ups. A skin cancer means that the skin
is globally damaged by UV. Therefore, there is a chance that a second skin
cancer will develop, different from the first.

Melanoma is a potentially very dangerous skin cancer that develops in the pigment cells of the skin (the melanocytes).
It can develop in a birthmark or pigmentation, but that is not always the case. Melanomas can develop anywhere in the skin. In women it is slightly more common on the legs, in men on the trunk.

Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. It is often curable if the
tumor is discovered at an early stage. However, some melanomas grow quickly
and can also spread fairly early. Usually that first happens to the lymph nodes
near the tumor. In a later stage the malignant tumor spreads through the blood to
other organs, and/or metastasizes elsewhere in the skin.

If the doctor suspects melanoma, the suspected lesion is treated by full
surgical resection. The lesion will then be examined microscopically to confirm the diagnosis.
Early diagnosis is essential as melanoma has a very favorable prognosis
in the initial phase. With further evolution, there is a risk of the malignant cells
spreading to the depth, resulting in metastasis. The prognosis is much less
favourable in that phase.

It is important that every change in a pigmentated spot as well as every new pigmentation spot, especially if it is irregular in colour and shape, grows quickly
and develops after the age of 40, is shown to a doctor and preferably a dermatologist.

Possible solutions

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