Basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, is also the “friendliest” because it doesn’t spread quickly.
It’s the type of cancer Dr. Jeff Popp sees the most.
“It’s pretty much the most common cancer on planet Earth,” he said. “It’s is also considered the ‘friendliest’ cancer.”
Basal cell carcinoma, unlike most cancers, doesn’t spread to other parts of your body (metastases). This makes it almost never lethal. It grows slowly and does local destruction only.
For instance, if it’s near your eye, it could eat away the eyelid over several years and threaten your sight, but the patient would have to be in great denial for that to happen as it would usually take years to occur.
Skin cancer linked to sun exposure
There are two other types of skin cancers that are becoming more common. Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell, spreads more quickly than basal cell, but into large patches. Malignant melanoma grows quickly and widely. It’s the most feared skin cancer because it can kill you.
“They all have a connection to sun exposure and UV light,” Dr. Popp said. “Wherever you have sun or a tanning bed light on exposed parts of the body, you increase your risk of skin cancer.”
The more fair-skinned you are, the more likely you are to get skin cancer. Dr. Popp said sunscreen should be your best friend.
He said summer is the riskiest time for everyone because people wear more short sleeves, V-neck and halter-top shirts, and shorts.
Because you expose more skin, you’re more likely to develop skin cancer on your chest, face, ears and arms.
And remember, tanning beds are just as dangerous as sunlight
Each carcinoma can look different
How can you tell if you have skin cancer?
Basal and squamous cell carcinomas tend to be red and crusty. Dr. Popp said they could look like moles without pigment in them. But melanomas are typically pigmented and can include spots that look like moles.
Skin cancers evolve at different rates. Watch for changes and irregular moles on your skin and then consult your doctor.
“For the most part, I only do reconstructive work after the skin cancer has been removed, I don’t remove them,” he said. “Certain parts of the body are difficult to reconstruct, like the eyelids. Those are the ones I specialize in.”
Dr. Popp does about three facial reconstructions due to skin cancer each week.
Set up your free consultation with Dr. Popp at 402-391-4558.