Skin Cancer

Did you know that skin cancer is the #1 most common skin cancer in humans? Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It usually appears as a slow-growing, shiny pink spot on sun-exposed areas of the skin such as the face. BCCs are sometimes mistaken for a blemish or pimple that occasionally bleeds or just won't heal. BCCs are rarely fatal, but can become disfiguring if allowed to grow. Indoor tanners have a 69 percent increased risk of getting a BCC before age 40.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is typically a scaly, pink bump or patch on sun-exposed skin, and it can grow slowly or very quickly. Most SCCs carry a 1-3% risk of metastasizing (spreading) in the body.


Malignant Melanoma is the third most common form of skin cancer and is more dangerous than BCC and SCC. It typically appears as a dark, irregularly-pigmented spot on the skin with irregular borders. Melanoma has a high risk of spreading in the body and can potentially have a high mortality rate, depending on how early or how late it is diagnosed.

Melanoma Facts:
- 1 in 36 men and 1 in 55 women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
- Melanoma is the most common cancer in young people ages 25 to 29.
- Indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
- The incidence of melanoma has increased eight-fold in women under age 40 and four-fold in men under age 40 in the last four decades.


The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone sees their physician every year for a professional skin exam. The exception is if you have a recent history of skin cancer. Then skin cancer screenings should be done every six months. Why? The biggest predictor of getting skin cancer is having a history of previous skin cancer.

Dr. Downes specializes in skin cancer screenings. By having a head-to-toe skin exam performed regularly, pre-cancerous lesions, melanoma, and other skin cancers can be found in time before they have a chance to grow into a bigger problem.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Depending on the type of skin cancer diagnosed, most can be surgically excised with a wide local excision or with a special type of tissue-sparing surgery called Mohs surgery. Other methods to treat skin cancer include: scraping and burning them off with a procedure called ED&C (electrodessication and curettage) or radiation treatments to the skin. Only in advanced cases of skin cancer are chemotherapy and lymph node removal indicated.