There are three types of skin cancer, each representing the malignant change of the three cell types found in the epidermis, or the uppermost layer of the skin.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It grows locally and is less likely to have extensions along its borders through the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma can have some extensions into the skin bordering the tumor, and may on rare occasions also have cells spread to the lymph nodes.
Malignant melanoma is derived from the melanocytes, or the cells in the epidermis that produce the pigment to give color to our skin. These are the cells which cause pigment production after exposure to the sun, leading to the tanning color. These cancers are more likely to have malignant cells migrate a distance from the border of the visible cancer, and are much more capable of spreading to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
At Yale Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, we understand that being diagnosed with skin cancer can be frightening. We also understand that you may be equally concerned with the possibility of scars or disfigurement from the cancer and its removal. Our surgeons use specialized surgical techniques to remove the melanoma from all parts of the body surface while preserving your appearance. If necessary, our surgeons can perform reconstruction at the same time that the melanoma is removed.