Skin Cancer

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There are different forms of skin cancer, and the most common are: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the type most likely to develop in a mole. … Read More

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Skin Cancer

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the most widespread type of cancer. It is caused by abnormal growth of the skin cells. It often develops due to exposure of skin to the sun.

skin cancer
Picture Courtesy: Mc Graw Hill

What are the types of skin cancer?

types of skin cancer
Picture Courtesy: medical.net

There are many types and the most prevalent are:

  •  Basal cell carcinoma which typically starts in the basal cells. They are the skin cells that replace old cells in the base of the epidermis. 
Basal cell carcinoma
Picture Courtesy: miiskin
  • Squamous cell carcinoma– it usually affects the cells which are present in the outermost part of the epidermis.
Squamous cell carcinoma
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  • Non-melanoma skin cancer
  • Melanoma– accounts for almost 1% of all skin cancers. This type of cancer develops from the skin cells called melanocytes responsible for skin color.
Melanoma
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Causes and Risk factors

risk factors of skin cancer
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Doctors do not know what causes certain cells to become cancerous. They have also identified potential risk factors for skin cancer. The most significant melanoma risk is exposure to UV (Ultraviolet) ultraviolet radiation. This damage the skin cell’s DNA, which controls how the cells grow, divide and stay alive.

 The majority of UV rays originate from the sun, but some also originate through tanning beds.  

Other risks include: 

  • Moles – A person who has over 100 moles has a higher risk of developing melanoma. 
  • Light hair, fair skin and freckles – The risk of developing melanoma increases in people with fair skin. Anyone who is easily burned has an increased chance of. 
  • Family History – Approximately 10% of those suffering from it have a background of it.
  • Personal history – Melanoma can develop in someone who has had it. Anyone who has experienced Squamous and basal cell carcinomas have a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with melanoma.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Older age.
  • Exposure to radiation and exposure to certain substances.

Symptoms

symptoms of skin cancer
Picture Courtesy: medical.net
  • any new moles or growths
  • moles or growths that have grown
  • growths or moles which have been significantly altered in a different way 
  • lesions that change and itch, bleed or aren’t healed 
  • The most frequent manifestation is an unusual brown or pink patch, spot or mole.

FAQ

How is skin cancer diagnosed?

The diagnosis includes:
a)       Physical examination- the doctor will examine the patient’s skin carefully to determine whether the skin changes are likely to skin cancer or not. 
b)       Skin biopsy– During this procedure, the doctor will remove a small sample of abnormal skin growth and sends it for pathological evaluation.
c)       Gene mutation testing.
diagnosis of skin cancer
Picture Courtesy: verywellhealth

How is skin cancer treated?

The treatment option for skin cancer depends upon the type, the grade of cancer and its severity. The treatment options are listed below:
a)      Excisional Surgery– During this surgery, the doctor removes the cancerous tissue and the surrounding margins of healthy tissue. In a few cases, the doctor might excise extra normal skin around the tumor (cancer). 
b)      Mohs surgery- During this surgery, the doctor will remove the skin growth layer by layer by examining each layer under the microscope until no abnormal cells remain. The main advantage of this surgery is that it allows cancerous cells to be removed without taking an excessive number of normal cells.

Mohs surgery
Picture Courtesy: cancer.gov
c)      Cryosurgery– The doctor freezers the cancer cells with liquid nitrogen during this procedure. Later the dead cells slough off.
Cryosurgery for skin cancer

Picture Courtesy: cancer.gov
d)      Radiation therapy– During this therapy, a high-power energy beam is used to kill cancer cells.
e)      Chemotherapy
f)      Photodynamic therapy– This treatment works with the combination of laser light and drugs to kill cancer cells. 
g)     Biological therapy makes use of the immune system of the body to destroy cancerous cells.
h)     Curettage and electrodesiccation

What are the complications of skin cancer?

The complications of skin cancer are:
a)       Recurrence of cancer
b)       Scarring
c)       Hyper or hypopigmentation
d)       The tightness and skin texture changes
e)       Wound infection after the surgery.
f)        Numbness and pain
g)       Hematoma (collection of blood under the skin)

When does skin cancer spread to the lymph nodes?

Skin cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, generally in the late-stage of cancer. 

Which skin cancer is most commonly seen?

The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer.

Which skin cancers are considered to be the most deadly? 

Melanoma is seen as one of the more deadly kinds of skin cancer.

What are some of the less common skin cancers?

The less common skin cancers are listed below:
1)       Kaposi sarcoma
2)       Sebaceous gland carcinoma
3)       Merkel cell carcinoma
4)       Dermatofibrosarcoma protruberans (DFSP)

What is the prognosis of skin cancer?

Most skin cancers with early diagnosis and treatment have an excellent prognosis. Melanoma is thought to be the most fatal form of cancer that affects the skin.

Can skin cancer become a life-threatening condition?

In some instances where skin cancer is not diagnosed or treated early, the chances of cancer metastasis to other organs, such as lungs, etc., is high, which can be fatal.