- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Stage 0: The cancer is still only at the top layer of the skin. This stage is otherwise known as carcinoma in situ.
- Stage I: The tumour size measures 2 cm in diameter or smaller.
- Stage II: The tumour size has grown bigger than 2 cm in diameter.
- Stage III: The growth has spread beyond the skin to the cartilage, muscles, bones, and/or nearby lymph nodes, but not beyond these.
- Stage IV: The growth has spread to other parts of the body.
- Shave Biopsy: The use of a blade to shave off the top layers of the skin.
- Punch Biopsy: A cookie-cutter looking tool is used to remove a deep sample of the skin.
- Incisional Biopsy: The use of a scalpel to remove some part of the lesion.
- Excisional Biopsy: The use of a scalpel to remove the entire lesion.
- Chemotherapy: This involves the use of very strong drugs to destroy cancer cells. It may be given through an IV or taken as a take a pill by mouth.
- Surgery: The removal of the lesion.
- Radiation therapy: The use of high energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. The radiation may be given through a machine, or with the aid of a needle, wire, or tiny sealed seed.
- Hormone therapy: If hormones are thought to play a part in the cancer formation, the amount of the said hormone being produced are reduced and the ones already produced are rendered inactive. This can be done with drugs, surgery or radiation.
- Targeted therapy: Drugs or other substances are given to attack the cancer cells without causing harm to the rest of the body.
- Immunotherapy (biologic therapy): This treatment is used to boost the immune system or to attack cancer cells.
- Cryotherapy; the use of liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze off cancer.
- Curettage (that is, scraping).
- Cautery (that is, burning).
The chief symptoms of nonmelanoma skin cancer is the appearance of a lump or a discoloured patch on the skin, which persists and slowly progresses after a few weeks, to over months or sometimes years.
- Any change to the skin; especially a change in size or colour of a mole or other dark pigmented growth or spot.
- Scaliness, oozing, bleeding or change to the appearance of a bump or nodule.
- The spread of a pigmentation beyond its border.
- Change in sensation.
- Itchiness, tenderness and pain.
- Sores that refuse to heal.
• sore that doesn't heal or comes back after healing.
• pale white or yellow flat areas that look like scars.
• raise and scaly red patches.
• small, smooth and shiny lumps that are pearly white, pink or red.
• a pink growth with raised edges and indents in the centre.
• a growth that has small blood vessels on the surface.
The main cause of a nonmelanoma skin cancer is overexposure to the sun and its ultraviolet (UV) rays, or artificial ultraviolet rays. This can be due to;
- Having had severe sunburns and blistering, especially during childhood.
- Having spent too much time in the sun over the years.
- The use of tanning beds or sunlamps, which are artificial sources of ultraviolet rays.
Other causes of nonmelanoma skin cancer may be
- Increase in numbers of unusual moles.
- Fair skin complexion, freckles, light eye colour, light or red hair colour
- History of skin cancer.
- A family history of skin cancer.
- Pale skin which burns easily.
- Immune system suppressing medication.
- A co-existing medical disorder that suppresses the immune system
- Smoking tobacco.
- Lingering non-healing wounds or previous burns.
UVC is filtered out by the earth's atmosphere. UVA and UVB damage skin over time, making it more likely for skin cancers to develop. UVB is thought to be the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. Artificial sources of UV light, such as sunlamps and tanning beds, also increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
How can I prevent nonmelanoma skin cancer?
Non-melanoma skin cancer may not be completely preventable, but its risk can be reduced by;
- Avoiding overexposure to ultraviolet light.
- Using high-factor sunscreen.
- Proper and sensible dressing in the sun, such as wearing sunglasses (with 100% UVA/UVB protection), wearing clothing to shield the face and cover the body, wearing wide brimmed hat to protect the face, ears and neck
- Limiting the amount of time spent in the sun during the hottest period of the day.
- Avoiding sunbeds and sunlamps.
- Frequently checking your skin for signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
- Quitting smoking.
Melanoma vs. nonmelanoma skin cancer
Nonmelanoma skin cancer develops in the basal, squamous or Merkel cells of the skin, while melanoma skin cancer develops in the skin’s melanocytes.
What are the risk factors of nonmelanoma skin cancer?
- Extreme exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
- Fair complexion.
- Occupational exposure to coal tar, pitch, creosote or arsenic compounds but to mention a few.
- Family history.
- Sunbed exposure.
Prognosis of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Nonmelanoma skin cancer (very) rarely metastasizes, as a result the prognosis is generally very good. However, certain characteristics increases the risk of recurrence or metastasis.
- Large tumour size (more than 2cm) or tumour depth.
- Poorly defined tumour border.
- Tumour development on the head or neck.
- A suppressed immune system.
- Tumour invasion near a nerve.
- Tumour growth at a site of previous radiation therapy.
- Aggressive tumour pattern of growth.
The 5 years survival rate of a nonmelanoma skin cancer witnesses another growth of nonmelanoma skin cancer in 30% to 50% of patients. Also, individuals who have had nonmelanoma skin cancer are at an increased risk of developing melanoma skin cancer.