Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of the cells. Certain cells are susceptible to cell mutation, and they divide abnormally.
Skin cancer affects cells of the skin. When skin cells are damaged by excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation or some other factors, they may begin to rapidly multiply out of control and form a tumor. Causes of cancer are sometimes unspecific.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
- An irregular mole
It may be a mole that is different from other moles of other parts of the body. If it is changing its color, size or shape, there is a chance to develop it to cancer.
- Vertical dark streaks on your nails
- Vision Problem
This can be melanoma of eyes, where a sport appears in the back of your eyes
- A sore that doesn’t heals.
- The spread of pigment from a spot to its surrounding
- Itchiness, tenderness or pain on the skin
- A pimple that won’t go away
- The appearance of a bump or lump on the skin
Being aware of the new and changing spots on our body is the first self-diagnosis. Consult a dermatologist in case of any unusual change seen in the skin. He may send to an oncologist if any sign and symptoms seem to be that of cancerous.
Diagnosis is done by:
- Medical History of patient
- Examination of the patient by the doctor
- Skin biopsy
A skin biopsy can be done by the following methods
- Excisional biopsy- Entire skin with some healthy skin is removed
- Incisional biopsy- Only the mole is removed
- Punch biopsy- A round piece of skin is removed
Structure of Skin
Skin is the largest organ of the body in terms of weight and surface area. The skin consists of three layers, upper Epidermis, middle Dermis and lower Subcutis and also hair follicles. Skin cancer begins in the topmost layer, the epidermis.
The top layer epidermis consists of three cells:
- Squamous cells
They are the outer most part, and they constantly shed, and a new one is formed.
- Basal cells:
They are the cells at the lower part of the epidermis. These cells divide to replace squamous cells. They move up and become squamous cells.
These cells give color to the skin. They prepare the brown pigment melanin. Melanin is a natural sunscreen and protects our body. When exposed to the sun, the skin becomes darker because more melanocyte makes more pigment
A basement membrane separates the epidermis from the deeper layer of skin. In cancerous case, it grows through this barrier into its deeper layer.
Skin Cancer types
- Basal cell carcinoma
They are the common type of skin cancer. They usually develop on sun-exposed areas like head and neck. They grow slowly. They won’t spread or spread very rarely.
- The appearance of pink, red bumps on the skin
- Pinky skin growth or lesions
- A reddish patch of skin that is painless
- A white waxy area like a scar
- Squamous cell carcinoma
They are seen mostly in sun-exposed areas like face, ears, neck, lips, etc. They are more likely to grow deeper and can spread to other parts
- Irregular border red patches that bleed easily
- Open sore that lasts for weeks
- Wart-like growth
Actinic Keratosis, a pre-cancerous skin condition caused by the exposure to too much sun if untreated can later develop to Squamous cell carcinoma.
The melanocyte gives color to cells of the skin. When cancer is developed in melanocyte, it is melanoma. They are much less common but are very dangerous and more likely to spread.
- An existing mole that bleeds
- Change in color, shape, size of the mole
- Large brownish patches
- Itching and tender skin
- Merkel cell cancer
Causes of Skin Cancer and Risk factors
Skin cancer occurs when a mutation occurs in the DNA of skin cells. Some of the factors are:
- UV light exposure
Ultraviolet rays either from the sun or tanning bed may cause cancer. It happens when skin is not covered by protective clothes or sunscreens. Fair skinned individuals are more susceptible since melanin content is less in their skin. Fair skinned individuals have less protection from UV radiation.
- Exposure to ionizing radiation( X-rays)
- A suppressed immune system
- Certain wart virus infection
- People who have already a history of skin cancer
- A History of sunburn
Treatment mainly depends on the stage of cancer. Topical medications, like creams, gels, certain solutions can be used for superficial basal cell carcinoma. The following are the other various treatment options:
Surgery is done to remove the cancerous part or part of normal tissue along with it.
Drugs are used to kill cancer cells. It is either taken by mouth or injected into vein or muscles.
High-speed energy beams are used to destroy cancer cells
- Targeted drug therapy
These are the use of drugs that act only on cancer cells and selectively destroy them.
- Immunotherapy or Biological therapy
Make use of the body’s immune system to fight against the cancer cell
- Palliative care
Intended to improve the quality of life of cancer patients who may not be susceptible to treatment. Care is given to ease patient’s further life such as reducing the pain and other body ailments.
Laser tattoo removal and the chance of skin cancer
A high-intensity light beam is used to remove the tattoos, which break up each pigment colors. Health organizations have the opinion that laser tattoos removal doesn’t cause any skin cancer or even increases any risk if the procedure is done in a safe and hygienic environment.
A track on your body symptoms
It’s nothing but noting down your health each day. Keeping a daily health record on any symptoms you notice, any pain you felt, medications you took daily, can be recorded easily by a symptom tracker. Keeping a journal of our health can lead us to better treatment. Doctors can give proper treatment and correct medication by just looking at the symptom tracker.
It is important to know the signs of possible skin cancer growth and to get immediate help if unsure. Avoiding the sun during the middle of the day, use of sunscreens are some of the precautions that we can take.
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