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Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer, otherwise known as the abnormal growth of skin cells, frequently occurs on skin that has been exposed to the sun, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs. However, it can also form on areas that do not see any sunlight, such as your palms, under your fingernails or toenails, and even on the soles of your feet. Skin cancer affects people with all skin tones, including those with darker complexions. Those most at risk for skin cancer are fair-skinned, blond, or red-haired people with blue or green eyes.

Sometimes growths do not start as cancer but develop over time making a failure to diagnose skin cancer one of the most common dermatology malpractice claims. If you were harmed by a healthcare provider’s failure to diagnose skin cancer, our seasoned medical malpractice attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP, can help you understand your legal options.

There are three (3) major types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are very common and very treatable. They start in the top layer of the skin and are often related to sun exposure. More than 4 million patients are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma every year, making it the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma occurs when one of the skin’s basal cells develops a mutation in its DNA. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer that forms on the top outer layer of the skin. It is rare for basal cell cancer to spread to other parts of the body, but if left untreated, basal cell cancer can migrate to nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin. Because it doesn’t look as alarming, basal cell carcinoma can be sneaky. It may appear as a:

  • A patch of skin that doesn’t heal for several months
  • A spot that bleeds from time to time or forms a scab
  • A spot that looks like an incessant pimple
  • A spot that looks like eczema that doesn’t go away.

Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 2 out of every 10 skin cancers and is the second most common type of skin cancer. These cancers start in the flat cells in the upper part of the epidermis. They can develop in scars or chronic skin sores and commonly appear in sun-exposed areas of the body. Squamous cell cancers can usually be removed completely or treated in other ways, although they are more likely than basal cell cancers to grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body. Squamous cells are also found in other parts of your body such as your lungs, mucous membranes, digestive tract, and urinary tract.

Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:

  • A firm, red nodule.
  • A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface.

Melanoma develops from melanocytes, the pigment-making cells found in the deepest layers of the skin. Melanomas are much less common than basal and squamous cell cancers, but they are more likely to grow and spread if left untreated. Other names for this cancer include malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma. Melanomas can develop anywhere, in otherwise normal skin or in an existing mole that becomes cancerous but is most likely to be found on the chest and back in men and on the lower legs in women. In both men and women, melanoma can occur on skin that hasn't been exposed to the sun. Malignant melanoma is an extremely aggressive form of skin cancer and it's among the most likely to be fatal. There are also kinds of skin cancer that are less common such as Kaposi sarcoma, sebaceous gland carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Signs of Melanoma may include:

  • A large brownish spot with dark speckles.
  • A mole that changes in color, size, texture, or bleeds.
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, pink, white, blue, or blue-black.
  • A painful lesion that itches or burns.
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles of feet, fingertips, or toes.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any changes to your skin that concern you.

Consult an experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Syracuse. The lawyers at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represent patients harmed by dermatology malpractice or a doctor's failure to diagnose skin cancer. We serve clients in the Upstate New York area, including Syracuse, Rochester, Lyons, Cooperstown, Wampsville, Utica, Oswego, Canandaigua, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Delhi, Norwich, Ithaca, Herkimer, Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

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