The Complete Guide To Skin Cancer

Complete Guide To Skin Cancer

Prevention, Risks & Stage 4 Melanoma Treatment

Not all skin cancers are deadly, but when people think of potential fatal malignancy they almost immediately think of melanoma which is a certain type of skin cancer.

Melanoma starts as abnormal cell growth that forms in skin color cells called melanocytes.

The melanocytes normally grow and divide but die after a while. However, when they grow and divide at a rapid rate they mutate into cancerous cells.

These cancerous cells become tumors.


skin cancers photos

What Causes Melanoma?

Is It Just Sun?

Melanoma happens through too much sun exposure or a person may have a genetic disposition to melanoma.

When a person is overly exposed to UV rays through work or recreation and are not protected by sunblock they may develop skin cancer.

Exposure to direct sunlight during the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm is the most dangerous time of the day to be in sunlight without wearing a sun block, though other hours can definitely contribute to the sun damage that causes skin cancer.

Skin cancer can occur in the absence of sunburn as well, though far less likely.  Some people may simply get the disease because of gene mutation, though less likely.


skin cancers pictures

Melanoma Risk Factors

What Are They?

There are several reasons that may affect one’s susceptibility to melanoma, these may affect a person’s melanoma risk factors:



Some families are genetically predisposed to melanoma.
If a person has a close relative such as a parent, child or sibling who suffers from skin cancer that person is at greater risk to develop the disease.



Prolonged exposure to the sun or repeated sunburn increase the risk. An obvious melanoma risk factor, knowing that almost from birth we’re told to stay out of the sun and to cover up.



All ethnicities can develop melanoma; however, people of European descent who have fair skin, blue eyes, red hair and freckles are most likely to develop melanoma because of the pigmentation of their skin.


UV Exposure

As you know, the sun is not the only place you may be subjected to Ultraviolet light. Tanning beds have been around for decades and have been responsible for numerous cases of skin cancer. Some lamps and flashlights may also contain UV lights.


Equatorial Proximity

If you live near the equator you run a higher risk of skin cancer due to higher amounts of ultraviolet radiation and low rainfall, high sun exposure.



If your immune system is fragile or debilitated in any way it could increase your risk factors of melanoma.



The more moles you have, the higher the likelihood it is that you’ll have a melanoma. Checking moles on a regular basis and visiting skin care specialists is very important in the prevention and detection of melanomas.


basal cell carcinoma images

Are Moles A Warning Sign Of Melanoma?

Are They A Concern?

Nearly every human being has at least one mole on their bodies even though less than 1% of babies are born with a mole.

Skin moles are initially non-cancerous tumors that also form from skin pigmentation cells.

No one knows for sure why skin moles develop though some experts are of the opinion that they form because of sun exposure and genetics.

People with skin moles are more likely to develop melanoma than others.

Someone who has many skin moles has a difficult time in recognizing melanoma because of their similarities.

If melanoma is suspected the best action to take is to consult a dermatologist.


types of melanoma

Types Of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Pictures


These are the types of skin cancer that can be found in humans.  Each type has pictures of skin cancer pertaining to that types.


basal cell carcinoma images on skin cancer

Basal Cell Carcinomas

This is the most frequently occurring skin cancer as well as the least treacherous.

Basal cell carcinomas (BCC) can appear as bumps or show up as scalier rough patches of skin and can be reddish, light or may not differ too much from a person’s skin color at all.
A basal cell carcinoma is considered a nonmelanoma skin cancer, but it can grow large and become dangerous when it’s size encroaches other susceptible body parts, though this rarely occurs.

Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options

Generally, a BCC can be removed, but if considered non-threatening removal may not be considered necessary.


squamous cell carcinomas images

Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Another nonmelanoma skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is not considered to present as great a danger as a melanoma but is still potentially fatal if left untreated.

Squamous cell carcinomas appear as scaly patches on the skin, red lumps, open sores, crusty lumps and possible bumps.

Any sign of this abnormality should be met with a visit to the appropriate medical professional.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options

Possible treatments may include excisional removal, electrodesiccation, microsurgery or cryosurgical removal. Laser removal may also be an option.
Actinic keratosis may be treated with the new blue light treatment for skin cancer available in some clinics and hospitals. (1)




Now we come to the very dangerous and very real killer (though squamous cell carcinomas can be deadly too), melanomas cause 3 quarters of all skin cancer-related fatalities, but account for only two percent of total diagnoses.

Melanomas may be one of these four types:

Superficial Spreading Melanoma (SSM)

Superficial Spreading Melanoma (SSM)

SSM is a slow-growing melanoma that is the easiest to detect.

Women are the most likely to develop SSM after puberty.

It can develop from a mole or start as a spot of many colors.

It begins in areas of the body that are exposed to sunlight.

Almost 65% of melanomas are of this type.


Nodular Melanoma (NM)

Nodular Melanoma (NM)

NM is the second most occurring melanoma appearing in 15 to 20 percent of the cases.

NM grows rapidly as a vertical growth below and above the skin. It starts on its own rather than from a mole and occurs most often in middle-aged men.

It looks like a black or blue-black blister.

Ignoring early nodular melanoma warnings can prove to be deadly because of its aggressive nature.


Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM)

Acral Lentiginous Melanoma (ALM)

Nearly 60 percent of the time ALM occurs in African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and American Indians and only 6-7 percent in people of European descent.

ALM usually appears on the palms, the soles of the feet, on the penis, in mucous membranes and under the nails called Acral Lentiginous Melanoma Subungual (ALMS).

People who develop ALMS mistake the melanoma for fungus because it generally appears under the big toenail or thumbnail.

Acral lentiginous melanoma is rare in that is does not affect caucasian at a higher rate unlike other types of skin cancer to which they are prone.


Lentigo Maligna Melanoma (LMM)

Lentigo Maligna Melanoma (LMM)

LMM forms the least often and is the slowest growing melanoma.

The average size of LMM is 4 ½mm – 6mm with a jagged outer edge.

Women of European descent over 70 years of age are the most likely to develop LMM.

It can be mistaken for a liver spot on the head, neck, nose or cheek.

Lentigo maligna melanoma occurs only 4 percent of all occurrences of melanoma.


Melanoma Treatment Options

Melanoma Treatment Options

The current melanoma treatment options in earlier stages include surgery, grafts, Moh’s surgery and accompanying medication.

What Is Moh’s Surgery?

This is a process whereby dermal layers are shaved one by one to gradually remove all traces of cancerous skin tissue leaving only cancer free tissue behind.

It is named after pioneer skin surgeon Dr Frederic. E Moh.


Stage 4 Melanoma Treatment

At Stage 4, melanoma has become insidious and spread through the body. At this point, stage 4 melanoma treatment will be more invasive and direct.

As the lymph nodes and internal organs may now be compromised, localized operations may no longer be an option.

Options may include:


The process of immunotherapy is to affect the immune system in a prescribed way. This can include either the suppression of immune responses or the augmentation of the immune system.

This can include either the suppression of immune responses or the augmentation of the immune system.


Not to be confused with radiation therapy, chemotherapy is the therapeutic application of drugs given to potentially eliminate cancer cells.

Chemotherapy is some cases will effectively remove the cancer, leading to remission.

Radiation Therapy

One of the most common stage 4 melanoma treatment options, radiation therapy or “radiotherapy” works to destroy cancerous cells by utilizing electron beams and gamma rays in order to eradicate the cancer cells.

Any stage iv melanoma treatment may be invasive, painful and met with various side effects that can lead to illness in a patient, but many people recover from the side effects to go into cancer remission.


Stage 4 Melanoma treatment

Stage 4 Melanoma Survival Rates

The five year survival rate of stage iv melanoma is 15-20% (2)

LDH (Lactate dehydrogenase) levels in a patient undergoing stage 4 melanoma treatment, have a direct correlation with increased survival rates.

It’s important to note that a five year survival rate merely indicates that 15-20% of stage iv sufferers are still alive after 5 years and that the number five is nothing to do with life expectancy as this is an unknown quantity for any given survivor.

There was a time in the past were stage iv melanoma treatment options were few and far between and the mortality rate was much higher.


skin cancer blackboard

Complete Guide To Skin Cancer


As soon as any type of abnormality is suspected, you should immediately consult a medical professional. Time is of the essence as early detection increase the survival rate by a large margin.

Time is of the essence as early detection increase the survival rate by a large margin.

Early detection of melanoma results in a high cure rate and reduces the risk of needing the more invasive stage 4 melanoma treatments.

It’s important to note the squamous cell carcinomas can also result in fatalities if left undetected, so the quicker you go to a doctor the better your chances increase of efficacious treatment.

If you or a loved one a suffering from skin cancer you can find support here: Melanoma.Org