Skin cancer refers to the cancerous or malignant growth of cells on the skin. It is an unusual growth of skin cells. The superficial layer of the skin called the epidermis is the home of these cells. It occasionally spreads to other body parts and becomes life-threatening.
The Most Common Risk Factors That Lead To Skin Cancer Include:
- High exposure to ultraviolet light directly from the sun or by using a tanning bed.
- A vulnerability to the immune system due to underlying diseases such as HIV, cancer, or medications that suppress immunity, such as chemotherapy
- Exposure to radiation or chemicals regularly and for a long duration
- Certain sexually obtained wart virus infections may also cause skin cancer.
- People who already have skin cancer generally have a 20% chance of developing another one in the next two years.
- Older people are more prone to skin cancers.
Types Of Skin Cancer
The categories of skin cancer are divided based on the cells involved.
Keratinocyte Carcinoma (Basal And Squamous Cell Cancer)
The first type of skin cancer is basal and squamous cell cancer. These are the most common forms of skin cancer. The areas of the body that get high exposure to the sun are most vulnerable to such cancers. They generally do not spread and are not life-threatening. But early detection and treatment is the key to avoid its spread. Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers and can have different appearances.
- It may look like an open sore which does not heal within 7- 10 days
- It may appear like a pink-red patch on the skin that is itchy or even oozes blood
- Any shiny bump on the skin that is pink, red, tan, brown, or white.
- A pink growth on the skin with a particular center
Basal cell cancer is easy to treat and does not typically spread to other parts of the body or disturbs the working of muscles, nerves, and bones.
Squamous cell carcinoma is another common cancer if you have a suppressed immune system. It can grow larger if it remains untreated. The tumors of the squamous cell carcinoma can look like:
- A red and scaly patch that oozes blood
- It may have open sores that do not heal
- There may be soft and raised growth on the skin having a specific center
- The tumor may resemble a wart
- It can cause too much itching, irritation, and inflammation on the skin.
Melanoma is the second type of skin cancer. Doctors can typically identify it and treat it, but it can spread to other parts of the body if not treated in time. Coloring cells known as melanocytes are responsible for their growth. They can develop anywhere on the skin. In men, the moles typically develop on the back or chest, whereas these moles generally develop on the legs in women. The cancerous moles are asymmetrical, their edges are raised, and they do not have a uniform color.
Skin Cancer Symptoms And Signs
Generally, skin cancers develop in an area where you can visibly spot them, so there is a good chance of detecting the problem early. However, you must immediately consult a physician or a dermatologist if you find something abnormal with the skin so that they can directly assist in starting the treatment early.
Unusual skin growth is generally the first sign of skin cancer. As the cancer cells grow, the size and shape of the lump increase, and cancer may spread to different layers of the skin. Skin cancer may even look like a simple rash, lump, or irregular patch on the skin.
Different skin cancers will have other signs and symptoms. The unusual changes in your skin are considered a dangerous sign of skin cancer. Being alert is the best way to seek a faster diagnosis.
The Main Symptoms Of Skin Cancer Include:
- Fresh moles with an unusual growth, sore, bump, or discolored patch in the form of skin lesions.
- Cancerous lesions are asymmetric. The two halves will not be the same.
- The lesions will have uneven borders.
- The lump has a different color like white, tan, black, pink, or red.
- The spot is larger than 0.3 inches in diameter.
- The mole usually changes its color, size, or shape.
Treatment Of Skin Cancer
Removal of the lesion is the most common way to treat skin cancer. Below are some other ways to treat skin cancer.
1. Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery is by applying liquid nitrogen, which freezes the growth. It is a common way to treat actinic keratosis.
2. Electrodesiccation and Curettage: A curette scrapes off the unusual growth on the skin. The surface is then burnt to destroy all the cancerous cells.
3. Creams: Creams can be applied to the skin to treat actinic keratosis and basal cell cancer.
4. Excisional Surgery: A scalpel removes the extra growth, and the skin is then tested for the remains of cancer cells. If the cancer cells have reached the lymph nodes, then chemotherapy or surgery may be necessary.
Preventing Skin Cancer
You can lower the risk of developing skin cancer by taking some preventive measures:
- Apply a sunscreen daily that has an SPF level of 30 or more.
- Avoid going out in the peak sun hours.
- Self-Examine your skin at least once a month.
- Get an annual examination done by a physician.
- Avoid tanning beds.
Factors Increasing The Risk Of Skin Cancer
The factors that exponentially increase the risk of skin cancer are:
- A family history of skin cancer
- Frequent exposure to substances like arsenic compounds or radium
- Regular exposure to radiation during some treatments
- Frequent exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds
- Extreme sunny or warm climate
- If you work outdoors for the whole day
- A history of sunburns
- Getting irregular moles
- Having a pale or scaly skin
- Skin is sensitive to sunburns
- If you have blond hair or green/blue eyes
- Having a compromised immune system
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, with millions of people diagnosed with this cancer every year. Regular examination of the skin is critical to find out about any unusual growth or change in an existing lump’s size, color, and shape. If you find anything suspicious, you must immediately rush to your physician or dermatologist.