What is Skin Cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which certain body cells don’t function right, divide very fast, and produce too much tissue that forms a tumor. The skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects us against heat, light, injury, and infection.
It regulates body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D.
Symptoms Of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears as a small raised bump that has a pearly appearance. It is most commonly seen on areas of the skin that have received excessive sun exposure. These cancers may spread to the skin around the cancer but rarely spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is also seen on the areas of the body that have been exposed to excessive sun (nose, lower lip, hands, and forehead). Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump or ulceration of the skin that does not heal. Squamous cell carcinomas can spread to lymph nodes in the area.
Melanoma is a skin cancer (malignancy) that arises from the melanocytes in the skin. These cancers typically arise as pigmented (colored) lesions in the skin with an irregular shape, irregular border, and multiple colors.
It is the most harmful of all the skin cancers, because it can spread to other sites in the body. Fortunately, most melanomas have a very high cure rate when identified and treated early.
Who Gets rignt Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a disease that has shown a steady increase over the past 20 years. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and treatment, it remains a very curable disease. A variety of factors have been identified that place a person at a higher risk to develop skin cancer.
Causes Of Skin Cancer
Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “Many of the more than 1 million skin cancers diagnosed each year could be prevented with protection from the sun’s rays.” Scientists now know that exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damages DNA in the skin.
The body can usually repair this damage before gene mutations occur and cancer develops. When a person’s body cannot repair the damaged DNA, which can occur with cumulative sun exposure, cancer develops.
Men are more likely to develop cancers on their neck, shoulders and back, whereas in women the cancer is more likely to appear on the legs and arms.
Treatment Of Skin Cancer
- Surgery is the most common form of treatment. It generally consists of an office or outpatient procedure to remove the lesion and check edges to make sure all the cancer was removed.
- In the case of melanoma, if there is a suspicion that the cancer may have spread beyond the skin layer, chemotherapy or biological treatment such as interferon may be given to attempt to eradicate skin cancer cells in other parts of the body.
- In larger skin cancers, your doctor may take some skin from another body site to cover the wound and promote healing. This is termed skin grafting.This is termed skin grafting.
- In more advanced cases of skin cancer, radiation therapy or chemotherapy (drugs that kill cancer cells) may be used with surgery to improve cure rates.
- Some cases of basal cell carcinoma may be suitable for “photodynamic therapy” – which uses a cream to sensitise the tumour – then exposes it to high intensities of light to destroy it.