Skin Cancer (Nonmelanoma)

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

Many patients ask just this question when they see a new or changing spot on their skin. Many skin cancers may develop from overexposure to the sun. They frequently develop on the head, neck and arms. The most common nonmelanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Skin cancer symptoms may include new growths, spots, bumps, patches or sores that do not heal after 2-3 months. You should alert your doctor if you think you have early signs of skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Doctors

Director, Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Surgery, Clifford Perlis, MD

Clifford S. Perlis, MD, MBE,
Director, Mohs Micrographic Surgery
and Dermatologic Surgery

Clifford Perlis, MD, director, Mohs Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center, works closely with our team of skin cancer doctors to develop the most effective skin cancer treatment plan for you.

Advanced Treatment for Nonmelanoma

At Fox Chase Cancer Center, our team of nationally recognized physicians offers a range of treatment options for nonmelanoma skin cancer based on the stage and type of your disease. Mohs skin cancer surgery is a highly effective and precise method for treating many basal- and squamous-cell carcinomas of the skin by removing cancerous tissue while preserving healthy tissue. In many cases, Mohs surgery will provide the highest cure rates while preserving the most normal skin.

Clinical Trials for Nonmelanoma

In addition to standard skin cancer treatment, Fox Chase physicians participate in ongoing clinical trials, focusing on new skin cancer treatments and prevention methods for both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers. Our physicians are experts in treating rare nonmelanomas such as some forms of lymphoma, called primary cutaneous lymphomas.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells develop from parts of the skin. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in the United States each year. Nonmelanoma skin cancers tend to grow slowly. They rarely spread.

  • Basal cell carcinomas look like flat, firm, pale areas or small, raised, pink or red, translucent, shiny, waxy areas that may bleed. They may be low in their center, and/or blue, brown or black areas. This is the most common cancer, accounting for over 75% of all skin cancers.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas may look like growing lumps, often with a rough, scaly, or crusted surface. They also may look like flat reddish patches in the skin that grow slowly. Squamous cell carcinomas commonly appear on the face, ear, neck, lip and the back of the hands. They account for 20% of all skin cancers.
  • Other much less common types of nonmelanoma skin cancers include: atypical fibroxanthoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, Merkel cell carcinoma and Kaposi's sarcoma.

Precancerous Skin Condition

Actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, is a precancerous skin condition that results from overexposure to the sun. These small rough spots are pink, red or flesh-colored and often appear on sun-exposed areas of the skin, such as the face, ears, back of the hands and arms. Actinic keratoses may progress to invasive skin cancers, but more importantly serve as a marker for patients who are at a higher risk of developing invasive skin cancers elsewhere on their bodies.

For more information about skin cancer symptoms and treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).

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