Signs, Symptoms & Treatment of Facial Skin Cancer
Submitted by Nic on November 19, 2012
Skin cancer develops mainly on those parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. Facial skin cancer as the name suggests, occurs on any part of the head or face and can affect people with all types of skin tones including those with darker complexions.
There are three types of facial skin cancers. They are basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and melanoma. The signs and symptoms of facial skin cancer vary according to the type of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinomas usually occur on the face, ears, scalp and other areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. Signs and symptoms of facial basal cell carcinomas include:
- A waxy bump
- A flat, flesh colored lesion
- A brownish scar-like lesion
Squamous cell carcinomas usually occur on the face, lips, ears and other areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. Signs and symptoms of facial squamous cell carcinomas include:
- A firm, reddish nodule
- A flat lesion having a scaly and crusted appearance
Melanomas can occur on skin that has not been exposed to the sun as well as in people with darker skin tones. Facial melanomas most often appear on the head or neck, developing in otherwise normal skin.
Signs and symptoms of facial melanoma include:
- A brownish spot with dark speckles
- A mole that changes in size or color
- A mole that bleeds
- A small lesion with parts that appear red, blue, blue-black or white
- Dark lesions on your nose or on the mucous membranes of the mouth
Signs and symptoms of less common facial skin cancers include:
- Red or purple patches on the skin or mucous membranes are seen in cases of Kaposi sarcoma
- Firm shiny nodules that appear in hair follicles or just beneath the skin are seen in cases of Merkel cell carcinoma
- Hard, painless nodules that appear on the eyelids or other areas of the face are observed in cases of sebaceous gland carcinoma.
Treatment for facial skin cancer depends on the type, size, depth and location of the cancer and includes:
- Skin biopsy – Used in cases of small superficial lesions.
- Freezing – Early cancers can be excised by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
- Laser Therapy - Used to treat small, superficial cancers on the lips and other sensitive areas of the face.
- Radiation therapy – Used in cases where surgery is not possible.
- Chemotherapy – For superficial lesions, topical creams containing anti-cancer compounds are applied directly to the lesion. Systemic chemotherapy is used to treat skin cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.
- Surgery – Facial skin cancer surgery includes standard excisional surgery and Mohs surgery. The latter is very effective in removing larger, recurring or difficult to treat cancers and does minimal damage to the healthy surrounding skin.
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