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A Skin Cancer Primer (Part 2)

In ‘A Skin Cancer Primer Part 1’, we learned that the term ‘skin cancer’ is a broad diagnosis for a number of different kinds of cancers. Each type presents in specific ways, which makes it difficult for the untrained eye to self-diagnosis.

“That’s why we encourage everyone to perform a monthly self-examination of his or her entire body,” says Richard Price, M.D. of Price Skin Care in Madison, MS. “If you see anything on your skin that looks out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with a medial doctor right away. Time is of the essence in treating some skin cancers.”

In Part One of ‘Skin Cancer Primer’, we looked at three type of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. In Part Two, we’ll look at three more causes – each of them rare, but potentially deadly.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma
• Like Melanoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma is also linked to overexposure of the sun.
• Merkel Cell presents most often as firm, shiny, painless nodules on the skin or in hair follicles on the arms, legs, head, or neck. The nodules usually present in the colors blue, red, or pink.
• Fortunately, Merkel Cell is uncommon. It’s a very aggressive form of skin cancer with a high rate of spreading to other organs leading to death.

Kaposi’s Sarcoma
• This form of skin cancer often affects those with compromised immune systems: for example, those who are taking drugs to suppress their natural immune response. It’s also found in those with Mediterranean ancestry.
• Kaposi’s Sarcoma attacks the skin’s blood vessels and presents as raised purple or red patches on the skin or mucous membranes.
• Thankfully, this form of cancer is also rare.

Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
• Like Merkel Cell and Kaposi’s Sarcoma, Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma is also a rare form of skin cancer.
• Aggressive, it arises in the oil glands of the skin and can occur anywhere on the body. However, it’s most frequently found on the eyelids, where it is often mistaken for other benign eyelid conditions.
• Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma presents as a hard, painless nodule or bump on the skin.

The Keys to Surviving Skin Cancer
Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to surviving skin cancer.

“Some skin cancers are difficult to recognize, so in addition to monthly skin self-examinations, we encourage everyone to make an annual appointment with a doctor who specializes in skin care,” says Dr. Price.

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