What is Skin Cancer?

Among all types of cancers that affect the human body, skin cancer seems to be the most common. Skin cancer is caused when healthy cells undergo a transformation and start multiplying out of control.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are basically three types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Most of the skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. They are malignant but rarely spread to other organs. Though they may cause disfiguring of the affected area if not treated early.

How Skin Cancer Occurs?

Usually, skin cancers develop as precancerous lesions on the skin. These lesions are changes in the skin that are not cancer but could turn into cancer over time. This stage is referred to as dysplasia.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is mainly caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure and occurs mostly due to exposure to sunlight. Other causes may include tanning, immunosuppressants, exposure to high levels of radiation like X-rays and contact with chemicals or hydrocarbons in tar, oils and soot.

Who are at risk?

Those who are at risk include people with whiter skin and one which gets sunburn quickly. The list also includes people with a genetic disorder that destroys skin pigments. People with large moles present at birth, those with skin cancer in the family, people who have suffered sunburn, people with indoor work and outdoor recreation.

 Symptoms of Skin Cancer

The symptoms typically depend on the type of skin cancer. A basal cell carcinoma usually looks like a  raised, smooth and shiny bump. It usually occurs in places where the skin is exposed as the head, neck, or shoulders. Other symptoms include small blood vessels with the tumour and the sore does not heal over time. If it is squamous cell carcinoma, then there will be red-colored, scaly bumps on the skin. The sore may ulcerate and bleed. If left untreated, they easily grow out of control.

The majority of malignant melanomas are black and pigmented lesions. The melanomas change in colour, shape size and elevation on the skin. The appearance of a new mole in a child or adult or new pain, ulceration or bleeding is signs of melanoma.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are very straightforward. Mostly the patient may require surgical removal of the lesion which should be adequate.

Malignant melanoma may require several treatment methods depending on the size of the growing tumour. Treatments include surgical removal, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy.  The combined expertise of dermatologists, cancer surgeons, and oncologists would be required to carry out the successful treatment.

How to Prevent Skin Cancer?

You can reduce the risk of getting skin cancer by using some simple methods.

  • Try to avoid overexposure in the sun mainly from 10 a.m to 4 p.m
  • Use a good sunscreen before you step out, every day
  • Use clothing that guards gains the sun like long-sleeved dress and hats
  •  Avoid artificial tanning
  • Self-exam regularly for changes in the skin

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