When it comes to skin cancer, there are two common types. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, these are squamous cell and basal cells. Here, the women’s health entrepreneur offers up a bit of information on the two.
Q: What is cancer?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Cancer is essentially cells in the body growing abnormally. It can happen anywhere. Skin cancer almost always starts on the top layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis. Skin cancer is often caused by exposure to sun or tanning beds, but, sometimes, it is the result of having a weak immune system or having come into contact with toxic chemicals.
Q: What are squamous cells?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Squamous cells are a type of cell that grows on the outermost layer of the skin. They are perfectly normal, and they are continually regrown and shed. However, occasionally, the cells grow outside of the spectrum of normal. This is when they become skin cancer or, medically, squamous cell carcinoma.
Q: What are basal cells?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Basal cells are a predecessor to squamous cells. These cells are formed in the basal cell layer, which is at the lower part of the epidermis. Their job is to divide and create new cells that push up through the outer layer of the skin. As they move up through the epidermis, they flatten out and transform into squamous cells. When an individual gets cancer in the basal cell layer, it is basal cell carcinoma.
Q: How do you know that you have skin cancer?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Sometimes, you don’t. However, if you notice any type of abnormal growth or discoloration on your skin, it’s best to have it checked out by a dermatologist. They may biopsy the area and recommend an appropriate treatment to kill or remove cancer cells if they are found.