Cancer that is formed in the tissues of the skin is known as Skin Cancer. It is one of the most common kinds of cancer that affects men and women. This cancer affects about a million people every year and there are many factors that cause this including excessive sun exposure, tanning, weak immune systems, etc. Read on to get a complete awareness of this most common form of cancer and on steps to prevent it.
How is skin cancer caused?
When the skin cells modify and multiply in an abnormal fashion, the uncontrollable growth causes the development of a mass known as a tumor. This tumor that occurs in the skin is also known as a lesion and these cancerous growths are malignant in nature which causes the destruction of adjacent cells leading to random growth. These tumors flow through the blood stream and affect other remote organs also during the advanced stages of skin cancer.
Types of skin cancer
Skin cancer is divided into two kinds depending on their ability to spread around. The two types of skin cancer are non-melanoma and melanoma. Non-melanoma includes the type basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in it.
1. Melanoma - The cancer that affects the melanocytes or the skin cells that create the pigments.
2. Basal cell carcinoma - The cancer that affects the lower part of the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin.
3. Squamous cell carcinoma - The cancer that affects the squamous cells or the flat cells that form the skin surface.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma normally do not spread to other parts of the body whereas melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer which spreads to other parts of the body. The major ratio and the most common type of skin cancer are the carcinoma types with the aggressive melanoma forming the least portion.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
The symptoms of skin cancer are skin changes which take time to heal along with ulcers. Sometimes skin discoloration and changes to moles on the skin can also been seen. The most common symptom is a small lump that is shiny and pale in color or a firm red lump. Some types of cancer also are associated with rough and scaly patches or flat scaly patches of red or brown color. Also beware of any new suspicious growth and consult a physician in such cases. Though these growths are most of the times painless, they can also be painful at times.
A smooth round bump is normally developed on the head, shoulder or neck with signs of crusting and bleeding with development of the tumor in cases of basal cell carcinoma. In squamous cell carcinoma, a thick red color patch along with ulcer and bleeding can be developed. Brown or blackish lesions are formed in cases of melanomas. The lesion exhibits change in size, color or shape as a symptom of the melanoma becoming malignant.
Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
This cancer is diagnosed by the physician in two main methods. The first and the most common method is the skin examination. In this method the doctor looks out for any abnormal growth or irregularity in the skin. This can be followed by a biopsy in case of finding any abnormal growth. In case of biopsy, the affected area or abnormal growth is well studied under a microscope to check for the presence of cancerous cells.
Treatment of Skin Cancer
Surgery is one effective method for the treatment of non-melanoma cancer types. The complete procedure of surgical treatment begins with surgery and includes follow-up methods of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In the surgical methods, the lesion and a calculated amount of tissues around it is removed so as to make the body tumor free. The Moh's micrographic surgery is one effective technique that is used for this process.
Prevention of Skin cancer
Early diagnosis and detection can help treat skin cancer before it turns dangerous and hence self evaluation of your skin on a regular basis is a must on a frequent basis. Look for any kind of abnormal changes, discoloration or growth in your skin. You can also undertake a doctor visit once a year to detect any signs or symptoms of cancer. In certain cases of high-risk situations, you can consult a skin specialist on a regular basis to screen for this cancer.
Skin cancer can be prevented by adopting a few basic tips which can be very useful in your daily life.
1. Use Sunscreens - 90% of the skin cancers are known to be caused by harmful UV radiations and sunscreens are the best protector when you are someone who spends a lot of time outdoors. UV rays damage our cell DNA structure and modify them making them cancerous. Minimize outings during the time when the sun is at its brightest. Also try to maintain your presence within the shade where ever possible. But even if you are in a shade, remember to wear your sunscreen,
2. Avoid excessive tanning - Artificial lights as in tanning beds, lamps and booths, all contain UV rays and increase the chances of melanoma.
3. Wear protective dressings - Though sunscreens do protect, you can consider wearing protective dressings like a hat or sunglasses, which can protect your eyes and facial skin from the sun.
4. Avoid childhood sunburns - Most of the times, a burn during your childhood can increase your risk of being affected with skin cancer along the years as you grow. Thus it is required that you monitor kids when they are in the sun reducing their exposure.
5. Eat healthy - A weak immune system is a ready agent for skin cancer. Make sure that you include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables so as to improve your body's immunity power.
People who run a higher risk of Skin cancer
Though many people are equally exposed to the chances of this cancer, there are a few who run a higher risk. Individuals with a family medical history of skin cancer or those who possess fair skin tone and freckles run a higher risk. Also people who are addictive to tanning and spend a lot of hours outdoors in the sun along with a weak immune system also possess equal risks of getting this cancer.