May is skin cancer awareness month. There are different types of skin cancer, and each tends to look a bit different. Reduce your risk of developing skin cancer with appropriate sun protection, including wearing sunscreen, performing skin self-exams, and visiting RejuvaDERM (Cosmetic)/Alberta Dermatology Consultants (Medical) to assess your moles and other concerning lesions. If a growth, mole, sore, or skin discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, you should see a Dermatologist. If you live in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, or any part of Canada, skin cancer is very common.
Having skin cancer greatly increases your risk of further skin cancers. If you are concerned about a spot, ask your family physician for a referral to a Dermatologist. Below our team of Alberta Dermatology Consultants/RejuvaDERM Dermatologists have broken down the characteristics of these types.
Actinic Keratoses (AK) = Precancers- NOT cancer YET. These dry, scaly patches or spots are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. Actinic keratosis (AK) can progress to a type of skin cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) slowly over time. AKS feel like rough sandpaper and never completely resolve. They do NOT bleed (suggesting something more sinister). AKs form on skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, hands, and forearms. This is sun damage and should be treated to prevent any further progression.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). This is the most common type of skin cancer. It frequently looks like a flesh-colored, pearly or translucent bump. It can also appear as a pinkish patch of skin that never goes away with traditional therapies (like topical steroids). It should be treated promptly because it can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement. BCCs can bleed and can be painful.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second-most common type of skin cancer. It often looks like a firm bump, scaly patch, or an ulcer that heals then reopens. SCC can grow deep and it can cause damage and disfigurement. Early treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body. SCCs can also bleed and be painful.
Melanoma. This skin cancer frequently develops in a mole that appears suddenly as a new dark spot on the skin. Melanoma is serious and can be deadly. This is a more urgent concern and if any thoughts of melanoma, this should prompt a immediate referral to the Alberta Dermatology Consultants.
If you have any concerns, please ask your family physician to refer you to the specialized skin cancer Dermatologists at Alberta Dermatology Consultants. To find out how to get a referral, please call:
Grande Prairie: (780)513-2255
or go to our website: