Skin Cancer

What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is when tumors start to grow in the skin. The skin is composed of several different layers and there are different types of skin cancer depending on which types of cells of the skin in the tumor starts to grow from.

The most common types of skin cancer are:
• Melanoma – which starts in the melanocytes, the cells that give the skin its color
• Squamous cell carcinoma – when cancer starts in the flat squamous cells that form the top layer of the skin
• Basal cell carcinoma- when cancer starts in the basal cells, which are  situated in the top layer of the skin under the squamous cells
What causes skin cancer?
The main cause of skin cancer is prolonged exposure to sunlight. The sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays are damaging to the skin. People who tan a lot or are prone to getting sunburned are generally more at risk of developing skin cancer, especially people who have experienced severe, blistering sunburns. People who are fair-skinned and light-haired are generally more at risk than people who are dark-skinned and dark-haired. In fact, any exposure to radiation besides the sun’s UV rays (such as radiation therapy, indoor tanning beds and exposure to radiation at work) increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Melanoma can develop from the moles on your body, so you should regularly check your moles for any changes in color, size or appearance. If you detect any abnormal changes, see your doctor immediately.

Skin cancer can also arise for no known reason.

Screening tests are effective in finding any abnormalities in your skin and detecting skin cancer early. Early detection can save your life. We strongly recommend that you have regular check-ups to screen for skin cancer at KHCC’s Early Detection Clinic.

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will definitely get skin cancer, but may increase your chances of developing it, so be vigilant: when in the sun, always use sun protection.

What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
• A new or changing mole or blemish is the most common warning sign for melanoma, especially a change in the color and/or an increase in diameter, height, or asymmetry of borders
• Bleeding, itching, ulceration, and pain in a mole are less common but warrant an evaluation
• A new growth on the skin, a sore that doesn't heal, or a change in an old growth

How is skin cancer diagnosed?
At KHCC, a variety of diagnostic techniques are used to accurately detect and stage skin cancer. Doctors will take an excisional biopsy to remove the abnormal tissue and to confirm diagnosis and stage the tumor. The thickness of the tumor (Breslow depth) is the most important indicator for prognosis. At KHCC, a technique to identify any affected lymph nodes and remove them for further examination is available.

How is skin cancer treated at KHCC?
The treatment of skin cancer depends on the stage of the disease and can vary from the simple removal of the mole or affected area to radiotherapy, cryotherapy and immunotherapy in addition to surgery.
At KHCC, skin cancer patients receive top quality care by specialists highly experienced in treating skin cancer.

Supportive Care
Supportive care services for skin cancer patients at KHCC include: