Facial Skin Cancer

Our faces are probably the most sun-exposed part of our bodies so it’s no surprise that skin cancer on the face is extremely common. The two most common types of facial skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Thankfully, they are the types of skin cancer least likely to spread and cause other serious consequences. Melanoma, on the other hand, is less common on the face but is very likely to spread (metastasize) and carries a much higher risk of serious complications compared to basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Skin cancer most often occurs in areas exposed to the sun such as the scalp, face, neck, ears, hands and arms. Areas not exposed to the sun can still be affected, just not as often.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer include

  • Light or fair complected skin
  • Frequent unprotected exposure to the sun
  • History of severe sunburns (especially the blistering kind)
  • Age > 50 years
  • Family history of skin cancer

Basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of facial skin cancer and often appears as a painless bump of shiny skin with tiny blood vessels on its surface. Basal cell carcinoma may also present as an ulceration or sore that fails to heal.  Although it is unlikely to spread to other areas, BCC slowly damages the tissue around it making the area unsightly and prone to infection.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer and is characterized by a scaly, hard lump that may appear flesh colored or with some discoloration to the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma but spreading is still uncommon and most damage is not widespread and easily removed surgically.

Melanoma is the least common type of facial skin cancer, but it is the one of the most aggressive and deadliest types of cancer in general.  Melanoma can present as a mole (new or present for a long time) that all of a sudden start to change size, shape and color.  The borders of melanoma moles tend to be irregular, have different shades of color and may even be itchy or bleed easily.

Yearly skin checks by a dermatologist or primary care provider is strongly advised for everyone, especially those who have a family history of skin cancer or personal history of extensive sun exposure and/or sunburns. 

Facial skin cancers are removed surgically and best done by trained professionals such as ENT specialists who receive specialized training in facial surgeries. To prevent spread of the cancer and further cosmetic damage surgical removal of the cancerous lesion along with the surrounding tissue is recommended. Our ENT surgeons have extensive experience in removing cancerous lesions anywhere on the scalp, face and neck regions. Contact us today!

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