Skin cancer is a common and locally destructive cancerous growth of the skin. It originates from the cells that line up along the membrane that separates the superficial layer of skin from the deeper layers. The vast majority of these sorts of skin cancers have a limited potential to spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.
There are three major types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.
Skin cancers are not considered to be hereditary; however, genetics is important because your skin colour is hereditary. Skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV light, putting fair-skinned people at more risk of getting skin cancer. Skin cancer typically appears on the skin that has been exposed to sunlight repeatedly for many years, such as the nose, ears, back of the neck and the bald area of the scalp.
If any of the below-mentioned symptoms are experienced, an appointment with a dermatologist needs to be made to check for the possibility of skin cancer.
- Pink skin growths or lesions with raised borders that are crusted in the centre
- Open sore that does not go away for weeks
- A wart-like growth
- Raised reddish patch of skin that may crust or itch, but is usually not painful
- A white, yellow, or waxy area with a poorly defined border that may resemble a scar
- A raised growth with a rough surface that is indented in the middle.
The most important warning sign for melanoma is any change in size, shape, or colour of a mole or other skin growth. Watch for changes that occur over a period of time.
The ABCDE system tells you what changes to look for –
- A – Asymmetry. One-half of the mole or skin growth doesn’t match the other half.
- B – Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C – Colour. The colour is not the same throughout the mole.
- D – Diameter. The mole or skin growth is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
- E – Evolution. There is a change in size, shape, symptoms, surface, or colour of a mole.
A definitive way to determine if you have skin cancer is to have a skin examination done by a dermatologist. A skin biopsy is then done to confirm the diagnosis. A small portion of the tumour is sliced away and then examined under a microscope by a pathologist.
There are several effective ways of treating skin cancer. The location and the size of the tumour, the microscopic characteristics of cancer, as well as the general health of the patient determine what form of therapy will be needed.
Topical medications can be used in the case of superficial basal cell carcinomas. A fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive method of treatment is destruction by electrodesiccation and curettage. The more expensive and complicated procedure to remove skin cancer would be surgical excision.
Mohs micrographic surgery is the treatment of choice for tumours where normal tissue preservation is vital, where the tumour margins are poorly defined, in tumours that have been previously treated and have recurred, and in certain high-risk tumours. For patients who are not candidates for surgical procedures, radiation therapy is recommended.
Early detection of skin cancers can lead to better outcomes. If you have any moles or spots that are suspect, see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening.