Comprehensive Care from Screening to Treatment

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. Catholic Health offers comprehensive care, from screening for skin cancer to treating the most common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Basal cell carcinoma. The most common skin cancer that grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. 

Squamous cell carcinoma. The second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cells are the most abundant cells of the skin. This type of cancer can spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body.

Melanoma. A more serious type of skin cancer. Most likely to spread compared to basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma begins in the pigment cells.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A bump that is smooth, shiny, pale or waxy.
  • A bump that is firm and red.
  • A bump or sore that bleeds or develops a crust or scab and does not heal.
  • A red or brown patch that is rough and scaly.
  • A flat red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly and may be itchy or tender.

Melanoma may begin in a mole or on previously clear skin. Doctors use the ABCDE method to examine moles for the following atypical characteristics:

Asymmetry. One half of the mole does not match the other half.

Border irregularityThe mole edges are ragged, notched or blurred.

Color. The mole has shades of black, brown, tan, red, gray, white, pink or blue.

Diameter. The mole is larger than six millimeters or ¼ inches, the size of a pencil eraser.

Evolving: The mole changes in size, shape or color. 

Call your doctor immediately if you notice ABCDE characteristics. 

There are no official screening guidelines for skin cancer, but checking your skin and monitoring it for changes is important for catching abnormalities early and diagnosing malignancy in its earliest stages when most treatable. 

Talk to your doctor about scheduling an appointment for a full-body scan to examine your skin thoroughly. You should also talk about how to conduct a self-examination between scans to learn the pattern and notice any differences in the shape and size of your moles, blemishes, freckles and other marks.

If your doctor notices an abnormality, a biopsy will be done and sent to a laboratory for further testing. 

Shave biopsy. Abnormal growth is shaved off.

Punch biopsy. A small but deep sample of tissue is removed.

Incisional biopsy. A piece of the lesion is removed

Excisional biopsy. The entire mole or growth and some tissue around it are removed.

Treatment methods will vary depending on the cancer type and stage. Standard treatment options include:

  • Surgery. Includes specialized Mohs surgery to remove the cancer or lesion from the skin. Also, plastic and reconstructive surgery may be recommended to promote healing after large skin cancer removal. 
  • Local therapy. Topical treatments or photodynamic therapy are targeted to the primary cancer location. 
  • Medical therapy. Different types of drugs, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Reduce scars and promotes healing after large skin cancer removal.

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