Cochise Oncology

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How Do You Get Skin Cancer?

Spending time in the sun feels so good that you can forget the harm those UV rays can do. Sun exposure is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer, but not the only one. Several other factors can increase your risk, but no one is immune to this condition, so everyone should take some simple precautions. 

What is Skin Cancer? 

Skin cancer occurs when cells in several layers of your skin begin to grow and divide abnormally. The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The first two are slow-growing but can become harmful if not treated. Melanoma grows more quickly and can spread. Catching any type of skin cancer early often allows your provider to remove it with a minor procedure. 

Skin Screening Tucson

How Do You Get Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer develops most frequently in areas exposed to the sun. This includes the face, ears, arms, chest, and upper back. Skin cancer can also appear in other areas not typically exposed to the sun. Other factors that affect your skin cancer risk include:

  • Having very fair skin and red or blond hair
  • Time outdoors for work or recreation without using sunscreen
  • A large number of moles or unusual-looking moles
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • Medications or medical conditions that affect your immune system

Any combination of factors can increase your risk, but lacking risk factors does not mean you cannot develop skin cancer. We recommend regular screening for everyone regardless of risk factors. 

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

The appearance of skin cancers can vary widely. They develop from different types of skin cells. Basal cell carcinoma forms in the lowest part of the epidermis. It usually looks like a smooth or scaly bump on the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma forms in other epidermal cells. This type of skin cancer can look like a small sore that refuses to heal. It may look crusty, red, or scaly and may bleed and form scabs. Melanoma forms from cells in the skin that make pigments (melanocytes). It most often looks like a mole with an unusual shape, color, or appearance. 


Simply fill out the form on this page to request an appointment and one of our knowledgable team members will reach out to you. Or call our Sierra Vista oncology center to schedule directly at (520) 803-6644.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

Treatment is usually simple if skin cancer is caught before it spreads to other tissues. Your provider may use a variety of methods to remove skin cancer. When removing localized cancer, a pathologist will examine the removed tissue to ensure no cancer cells remain. If skin cancer has spread, treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. 

Should I Get a Skin Cancer Screening? 

Regardless of your risk factors, we recommend a yearly skin cancer screening. We may recommend screenings more often if you have many significant risk factors. While you can and should regularly examine your own skin for unusual moles or spots, you should have a screening performed yearly by a professional. 


*Individual Results May Vary


At Cochise Oncology, we know optimal cancer treatment places the patient first – and our patients experience this every day. Read what our satisfied patients are saying about their experiences at Cochise Oncology.

Take the Next Step

Do you have questions about skin cancer? Reach out to Cochise Oncology at (520) 335-9460 or fill out the consultation form on this page.

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