Beverly Hills Cancer Center is home to the world-renowned Skin Cancer Institute of Los Angeles.
There are several types of skin cancers, each of which has different traits and levels of severity. Each is named according to the cell from which it originates. Basal cell cancer is the most common but least dangerous. Squamous cell cancer is less common than basal, but is more likely to metastasize. Melanoma is the rarest form but is the most aggressive. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center you will be treated by among the most experienced skin cancer doctors Los Angeles has to offer.
Signs and symptoms
Skin cancer is primarily present on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, back, scalp and arms. It may also form on areas that don’t see very much sun, such as the palms, underneath the fingernails or the genital area. Receiving a thorough skin cancer screening can detect early signs of this disease.
Basal cell cancer generally occurs on sun-exposed areas. Signs of basal cell carcinoma include:
- Bumps that are whitish and waxy
- Lesions that are flat and flesh colored or brown
Squamous cell cancer also appears primarily on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. Its symptoms include:
- A firm, red cyst
- A flat lesion with a crusty, flaking surface
Unlike basal and squamous cancers, melanoma can occur anywhere on the body. In men, it most commonly occurs on the torso, head or neck. In women, it generally develops on the lower legs. In both genders, melanoma can develop on skin that hasn’t been exposed to the sun.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma include:
- A brown spot with dark specks
- A mole that changes in any number of qualities, such as size, texture and color
- A small cyst with areas that appear red, white or blue
- Dark lesions on the palms or soles of the feet, as well as membranes lining the mouth, nose, vagina or anus
- Moles with an irregular border
Melanoma may also occur in areas that have little or no sun exposure, such as the palms, soles of the feet and genitals. When melanoma develops in people with darker skin, it’s more likely to be in a hidden area. Primary forms of hidden melanoma include:
Under the nail, otherwise known as subungual melanoma. The first sign is generally a discoloration that can be mistaken for a bruise.
In the mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract or vagina. Each of these areas contains a mucous membrane, in which the melanoma develops.
Eye melanoma, otherwise known as ocular melanoma, can develop in the uvea. This type of melanoma can be diagnosed in an eye exam.
Tests and Diagnosis
There are two primary ways in which a doctor will perform skin cancer screening and diagnose skin cancer:
- Examination of the skin to determine the likelihood of skin cancer based on skin changes. There will likely be further testing after this is done.
- Removal of a skin sample for testing, also known as a skin biopsy. This can then be tested in a laboratory for signs of skin cancer, including the type of cancer.
If cancer is present, the doctor will conduct a further skin cancer screening to determine the extent or stage of cancer. In the case of superficial skin cancer, such as basal cell cancer, the skin biopsy can remove the growth completely and no further testing need be done. In more advanced forms of cancer, there will be further testing to discover the exact stage. Once the stage is determined, recommendations can be made regarding which treatment will be most effective. The Beverly Hills Cancer Center is proud to have among the most dedicated skin cancer doctors Los Angeles has to offer.
When it comes to skin cancer, the treatments are as varied as the types of skin cancer. It all depends on the size, depth, type and location of the growths. Primary treatment options available through the skin cancer doctors at our private Los Angeles facility include:
- Freezing the growths with liquid nitrogen. When it thaws, the dead tissue simply sheds, no longer malignant.
- Surgery to excise the growth or lesion. This may be used on any type of skin cancer. The doctor cuts out the cancerous tissue as well as a margin of healthy skin surrounding it.
- Laser therapy can be used to destroy growths. Due to the precision of laser technology, there is very little damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. This treatment is generally used against superficial skin cancers.
- Mohs surgery is a method by which a surgeon removes growths layer by layer, examining each layer until no cancerous cells remain.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation can be used to treat superficial forms of cancer. A curette—a scoop-like blade—is used to scrape away cancer cells, and an electric needle is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy may be used when surgery cannot be performed.
- Chemotherapy may also be used on skin cancer, especially when it has spread to other parts of the body.
- Photodynamic therapy is used to destroy cancerous skin cells with focused light. Drugs are used beforehand that make the cancer cells sensitive to light.
- Biological therapy may be used to stimulate the immune system, giving it the strength to kill cancer cells.
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