A Complete Guide to Skin Cancer
Basically, the skin is the largest organ of a body that protects the body against infection and injury and regulates body temperature. It stores water and fat and also produces vitamin D. During skin cancer, cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumour. A tumour if it is malignant, it can grow and spread to other parts of the body.
There are 4 main types of skin cancer:
1. Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cells are the round cells and about 80% of skin cancers develop from this type of cell. They often develop on the head and neck and are mainly caused by sun exposure or people who have been exposed to radiation.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is also mainly caused by sun exposure, but it can also develop on skin that has been burned, damaged by chemicals, or exposed to x-rays. They are commonly found on the lips, on the skin outside the mouth, anus, and on a woman’s vagina.
3. Merkel cell cancer
A highly aggressive and rare cancer type is Merkel cell cancer. Produced from hormone cells, they are usually found in the head and neck region.
Formed from scattered cells called melanocytes which produces the pigment melanin, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. For more information about melanoma, you can visit the website and get more information about it.
Prevention of skin cancer
- Limit or avoid direct exposure to the sun between morning to evening.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, with a hat that covers the face, neck, and ears.
- Use UV-protective sunglasses to protect the eyes.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or more.
- Avoid recreational sunbathing and do not use tanning beds, or tanning salons.
- Examine your skin regularly by a health care professional or through self-examinations.
Each type of skin cancer can appear differently, so it is important to talk with your doctor when you notice a change in your skin.
Symptoms experienced in diverse skin cancers
In basal cell carcinoma
- An open sore that bleeds oozes and doesn’t heal for several weeks
- A reddish, raised patch or irritated area that may itch
- A shiny pink, red, pearly white, or translucent bump
- A scar-like, white, yellow, or waxy area with an undefined border
In Squamous cell carcinoma
- It may have a wart-like growth
- A persistent, scaly red patch that may bleed easily
- An open sore that persists for weeks
- A raised growth with a rough surface
In Merkel cell cancer
- It may be painless with the firm and shiny lumps on the skin
- They can be in red, pink, or blue in colour
In Melanoma cancer
- Can be spread along the nerves
- May cause itching, pain, numbness, tingling, or a feeling like there are ants crawling under the skin
- May include lumps or bumps under the skin in areas such as the neck, armpit, or groin
Therapies effective in treating skin cancer
A cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells from growing is called radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy a treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. The drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body.
Using a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells is known as photodynamic therapy. The laser light is shined onto the skin and the drug becomes active and kills the cancer cells.
Substances made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body’s natural defences against cancer. This treatment other than immunotherapy is also called biotherapy or biologic therapy.