Did you know that skin cancer is the most common variant of cancer? Although such an epidemic, there isn’t much awareness among the masses on skin cancer. So, to help you become more aware, we are here with the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer, quite literally the ABCDE.
A stands for “An overview of skin cancer”, B for “Basic symptoms”, C for “Causes”, D for “Diagnosis and Treatment”, and lastly, E for “Efficient Preventive measures” to keep the disease far from yourself and your loved ones. So, let us begin our simple wholesome guide on the disease.
A. An overview of skin cancer
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged to the extent that they start growing abnormally. Anything unusual on the skin that does not heal even after four weeks needs the doctor’s attention.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a non-melanoma type
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma(SCC)is non-melanoma
- Melanoma- The most dangerous of all skin cancer.
There are certain high-risk skin conditions known as
- Actinic Keratosis
- Atypical Moles
B. Basic symptoms
(1) Basal Cell Carcinoma:
Is a non-melanoma variant, and it may look like a firm red nodule or a bleeding scaly growth that may develop a crust. It may also be a sore that is not healing on its own and sometimes, despite the treatment too. It commonly occurs on the forehead, lower lip, ears, nose, hands, and those areas of the body which are exposed to sunlight for longer periods of time. Thus, the face, neck, and head region are more vulnerable to this form of skin cancer.
(2) Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
SCC is a non-melanoma variant too and is curable if caught and treated early. SCCs usually develop in areas that have been damaged by sun exposure. In people with pale skin, they are mainly found on bald scalps, face, neck, arms, backs of hands and lower legs. But strangely in people with darker skin, SCCs are more likely to affect areas that have less or no sun exposure like the torso, lower legs, genitals or areas where scars have been present for a long time.
SCCs may look scaly, have a hard, crusty scab, or on the contrary, they may look pink or red and make the skin raised in the area of cancer. They feel tender to touch, and bleed sometimes. Any changes in the skin and also a sore that does not heal are serious enough to go to the doctor. For more information, click here.
Is the most dangerous of them all and is a malignant cancer variant. What this means is that Melanoma may grow rapidly and can also spread to other body organs in some cases, leading to more variants of cancer. Melanoma forms in melanocytes, pigmented skin cells, which is also where it derives its name from. Non-melanoma cancer stays on the outer layer of the skin in the beginning stages, thus, making it easier to detect, stop, and remove.
C. Causes of skin cancer
Causes of skin cancer are many and mostly related to exposure to UV radiation in the sunlight. They can be categorized as due to:
- Sunburns – 95% of melanomas are caused due to exposure to UV radiation.
- Tanning– This is a sign that the skin has been exposed to enough sunlight so as to change its colour. Nowadays, artificial tanning is recking in huge popularity, however, the damage the skin incurs could further cause loss of elasticity (wrinkles), sagging, yellowish discolouration and even brown patches on the skin. It is responsible for increasing the risk of skin cancer.
- Solariums -They emit UVA and UVB radiation, both well-known causes of cancer.
D. Diagnosis and Treatment
It is important to check one’s skin regularly and consult the doctor in case any changes are noticed. In most cases, the doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) and refer the case to a dermatologist if any suspicious-looking spots are found.
Skin cancers are almost always removed; some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out. The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery to remove cancer (under local anesthesia).
Radiotherapy or ointments are also used to cure skin cancers. Skin cancer can also be removed with cryosurgery in which the cancerous skin is frozen by the use of liquid nitrogen and removed; other methods of treatment are curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning). Treatment also includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies.
E. Efficient Prevention
- Protect your skin from the sun when the UV level is 3 or above.
- Use any broad-spectrum, water-resistant SPF30+ sunscreen.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, scarf, sunglasses to protect your face, head, neck and ears and any other exposed parts of the body from exposure to sunlight.