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Understanding the Different Types of Skin Cancer

Cancers can occur in any organ in your body, including your skin, which is, after all, your body’s largest organ. Skin cancers result from abnormal cell growth, and typically occur due to sun exposure.

Skin cancer is a fairly common condition, and is more frequently diagnosed than any other type of cancer in the United States. The skin care specialists at Apex Dermatology of Westlake Village, California, treat a variety of types of skin cancers in new and existing patients. 

Our team includes Karin Harp, MD, FAAD, FASDS, Dr. Aria Vazirnia, MD, MAS, FAAD, Kristin Rupert, PA-C, Mary Hanna, MSN, NP-BC, and Riley McCarthy, RN. With our help, you can beat skin cancer and learn about skin cancer prevention tips.

While a range of skin cancers exist, three types account for the majority of cases we treat, and are much more common in the population at large. Here’s what you need to know about common types of skin cancer, including initial appearance, risk to you, and your treatment options.


This is the most serious type of skin cancer, and can become life-threatening without the right screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

The most common sign of melanoma is a skin bump similar to a mole that changes in appearance over time. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on moles to make sure you don’t observe telltale changes that could indicate cancer.

Karin Harp, MD, FAAD, FASDS, Dr. Aria Vazirnia, MD, MAS, FAAD, Kristin Rupert, PA-C,and  Mary Hanna, MSN, NP-BC, screen their patients regularly for melanoma. With this serious type of skin cancer, early detection is your best bet for good treatment outcomes. You can also take steps to lower your risk of skin cancer by protecting your skin from the sun. Reduce exposure, use sunscreen, and cover up when you’re outside!Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

This type of skin cancer shows up more frequently than any other type. But, thankfully, it’s not nearly as dangerous as a melanoma, and you have accessible treatment options that make this condition less of a serious problem! BCC rarely spreads to other areas of your body, another reason why this skin cancer is less scary than other types.

The symptom to watch out for when it comes to BCC is a pearly-looking raised bump the same color as the rest of your skin. The area might seem to “open” periodically like a small wound, with a little bleeding, and then seal up again.

BCC typically appears on areas of your skin that see a lot of sun exposure. This can include your face, neck, arms, and chest. BCC can occur anywhere on your skin.

The Apex Dermatology team can potentially treat BCC with Mohs surgery either in our office or with one of our highly-recommended Mohs Surgeons we commonly refer to. Mohs is one of the best techniques for skin cancer removal. If necessary, excision can also treat BCC.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Another common type of skin cancer, SCC can present with a few different initial symptoms. You might see a scaly patch of skin on your face, arms, or legs. Or, you could see a firm red lump, or a scaly area that builds into a raised peak. The sores caused by SCC grow and shrink, or grow rapidly, and may cause discomfort or pain.

Our skilled providers can also effectively treat SCC with Mohs surgery.

Diagnosing your potential skin cancer

If you see skin changes or symptoms that seem suspicious, make an appointment to get checked out soon at Apex Dermatology. Skin cancers are often very treatable, but your outlook is best if your condition is caught early.

Request an appointment at Apex Dermatology online or over the phone today. 

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