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Types of Skin Cancers

Are you concerned that a new or changing spot or mole may be cancerous? Dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Fahrenbach of North Branch skin cancerDermatology in Chicago, IL, discusses skin cancer types and symptoms.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, with more than four million cases diagnosed annually, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The symptoms of this type of skin cancer may not seem very alarming at first. In fact, these types of cancers can look like red pimples. Although pimples usually disappear in about two weeks, the rounded bump remains on your skin if you have basal cell carcinoma.

In addition to pimples, basal cell carcinoma may also appear as an open sore or a pink, red, brown, black or brown spot on your skin. Basal cell carcinoma usually develops on areas of your body that have been exposed to the sun, such as the arms, chest, legs and face. Although the cancer doesn't usually spread, it can invade underlying bones and tissues if it isn't treated promptly.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Exposure to the sun or tanning beds also increases your risk of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. If you have squamous cell carcinoma, you may notice a firm, red bump on your skin or a patch of red skin that looks flaky or crusty. In some cases, flaky patches can turn into open sores. Cancer can also affect underlying tissues if it isn't diagnosed and treated soon after you notice a change in your skin.


Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, can spread to other areas of your body without prompt treatment. Cancer can change the appearance of a mole or spur the formation of new moles. Warning signs include:

  • Border Changes: Borders that look blurred, rough or irregular are a cause for concern.
  • Odd Shapes: Melanoma may change the shape of a normally round mole.
  • Size: Moles that are larger than a pencil eraser are more likely to become cancerous.
  • Unusual Changes: Itching, pain, bleeding, oozing, texture changes or bleeding around a mole are warning signs.

How is skin cancer treated in Chicago?

Treatment of skin cancer involves removing the cancerous growth and any underlying tissues that have been affected by cancer. Although the type of treatment you'll need will depend on the type of cancer and the severity, many patients benefit from skin-sparing Mohs surgery. The surgical procedure uses a layer-by-layer approach to preserve a larger percentage of healthy skin.

Are you concerned about a suspicious spot or mole? Call Dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Fahrenbach of North Branch Dermatology in Chicago, IL, at (773) 763-6000 to schedule an appointment.

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