What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
There are 3 main types of skin cancers:
- Basal cell skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas)
- Squamous cell skin cancers (squamous cell carcinomas)
Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer:
Basal and Squamous Skin Cancer are the two most common skin cancer types. Both are strongly related to sun exposure and are mainly found on parts of the body such as the head and neck.
Basal and Squamous cell cancers are less likely to spread to other parts of the body and become life threatening as is melanomas. It is still important to treat them early and if left alone, they can grow larger and invade tissue and organs, which can cause scarring, deformity or even loss of function in parts of the body. If not treated they can become fatal.
Melanomas are cancers that develop from “melanocytes,” the cells that make brown pigment in which it gives skin color. Melanocytes can be from non-cancerous growths called moles.
Although Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, it is likely so start in certain areas. The chest and back are the two most common places in men. In women, the legs are the most common area. The Neck and face are also common areas for melanoma to begin.
However, melanomas is not as common as Basil and Squamous cell skin cancer, but they can a lot more serious. Melanoma is almost always curable in its earliest stages but if left alone, it is more likely to spread to other parts on the body where it can become harder to treat.
- An unusual skin growth, bump or sore that doesn’t go away.
- If they develop on the neck or head, it may first appear as a pale patch of skin or a waxy translucent bump.
- If they develop on the chest it may look more like a brownish scar or flesh-colored lesion.
- Firm lumps may be rough on the surface.
How to prevent skin cancer
Regular examination of the skin for any new or unusual growths or changes in the size, shape or color of an existing spot. If you find anything suspicious, you should discuss it with your primary care physician or a dermatologist.
Test and Diagnosis
Doctors use tests such as metastasis. Some test may also determine which treatments will be the most effective. A biopsy is sometimes the only way to make a definitive diagnosis. A biopsy is the removal of small amounts of tissue for examination under a microscope.Your doctor may consider many factors when choosing a diagnostic test such as:
- Age and medical condition
- Types of cancer suspected
- Signs and symptoms
- Previous test results
- Curettage and electrodessication: The skin lesion is removed with a curette, a sharp spoon-shaped instrument, then is treated with an electric current that helps to control the bleeding and destroys remaining cancer cells.
- Mohs surgery (complete margin assessment surgery): It consists of removing the visible tumor as well as small fragments around the edge of the area where the tumor is located.
- Freezing (cryotherapy): This uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy abnormal cells.
- Laser therapy: A narrow beam of high intensity light can destroy precancer that is located on the outer layer of the skin.
- Grafting: A large tumor is removed, surgeons may use skim from another part of the body to close the wound and reduce scarring.
- Reconstructive surgery: If the skin cancer develops on the persons face, a reconstructive surgeon or facial specialist may be part of the health care team.
- Radiation therapy: It consists of the use of high-energy rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells.