Skin cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in the U.S. About 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer at some point. The good news is that most types of skin cancer are highly treatable, especially when they are detected early.

There are two main types of nonmelanoma skin cancer.

  • Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer.

Rarer skin cancer types include cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, Merkel cell carcinoma and sebaceous carcinoma.

Skin Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

Using state-of-the-art technology and leading-edge medical and surgical interventions, Markey’s skin cancer team provides advanced and timely diagnosis and individualized, ongoing care for patients. Each patient is cared for by a team of specialists who meet regularly to discuss individual patient cases and skin cancer treatment plans. This multidisciplinary team will work with you and your doctor to coordinate a care plan designed to offer the best outcomes.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only comprehensive cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Skin cancer symptoms can vary based on the type of cancer present. Basal cell carcinoma often develops in areas exposed to the sun, especially the face, head and neck. It may look like:

  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas
  • Open sores
  • Pink growths with raised edges and abnormal blood vessels
  • Raised reddish patches, which are often itchy
  • Small pink or red shiny bumps, which might have darker areas

Squamous cell carcinoma usually develops where skin has been exposed to the sun but sometimes occurs in the genital region. Symptoms include:

  • Open sores
  • Raised growths or lumps
  • Rough or scaly red patches
  • Wart-like bumps

When detected early, basal and squamous cell carcinoma have extremely high survival rates, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 5.4 million cases of the two diseases are diagnosed annually in over 3 million people, and just 2,000 people on average will die. Most deaths are in older people or in people with suppressed immune systems. A rarer disease, Merkel cell cancer, has a five-year survival rate of 63 percent.

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to take sun exposure seriously. Most skin cancers are caused by cumulative exposure to UV radiation. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Wear sunscreen daily. Use broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on parts of your body not covered by clothing, like your face and hands.
  • Avoid direct sunlight if possible. If you can’t stay inside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the sun’s peak hours, seek shade.
  • Do not use tanning beds. The concentrated ultraviolet light greatly increases your risk of skin cancer.
  • Wear protective clothing. Hats, sunglasses and long sleeves can minimize exposure.
  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco can increase your risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
  • Pay attention to your skin. Take note of any changes in moles or freckles, and look for new growths. Ask your doctor if you notice anything unusual that might be signs of skin cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.

Sun exposure is the top risk factor for skin cancer. This means if you spend a lot of time outdoors, whether for work or play, you should more carefully monitor your skin. Other risk factors include:

  • Age
  • Being male
  • Chemical exposure
  • Having fair skin
  • Radiation exposure
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune systems
  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Whitney-Hendrickson Building.
  • You can register at the front desk or registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. At Markey, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating skin cancer.

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NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.