Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. More knowledge about this cancer can lead to its early diagnosis and increase the likelihood of control and treatment. It is necessary to observe the symptoms of this disease in the body, while maintaining composure, to see a specialist to examine the relevant symptoms.
Types of skin cancer
Skin cancers are divided into four categories:
Basal cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
Melanoma or tumor of melanoma cell origin
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Causes of skin cancer
Mutations in the DNA of skin cells cause the growth of skin cells to get out of control and a mass of cancer cells to form in the skin. Skin cancer develops in the upper layer of the skin in a part called the epidermis. Epidermis are thin layers that form a protective covering using skin cells. Epidermis consists of three main cell types:
Squamous cells are located just below the outer surface of the skin and act as the inner lining of the skin.
The basal cells are responsible for creating new skin cells and are located under the squamous cells.
Melanocytes produce melanin, which gives the skin its natural color. Melanocytes are located in the lower part of the epidermis. As a person is exposed to sunlight, melanocytes produce more melanin to further protect the underlying layers of the skin.
Exposure to UV rays (natural and / or artificial) and toxins are among the most important causes of the most common types of skin cancer. Other factors, such as prolonged exposure to certain chemicals, can also lead to skin cancer.
Risk factors for skin cancer
Some factors increase the risk of skin cancer:
- Family history of skin cancer
- Exposure to certain chemicals such as arsenic, radium, cryosote and…
- Exposure to radiation to treat acne, eczema and
- Exposure to artificial UV radiation
- Life and work in the sun
- A history of severe sunburn
- Having multiple large and asymmetrical moles
- Have fair skin
- Having blonde or red hair naturally
- Having green or blue eyes naturally
- Precancerous skin growth
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Weak immune system, for example due to HIV
- Having organ transplant surgery
- Use of immunosuppressive drugs
Symptoms of various skin cancers
Skin cancer has different symptoms, there are a number of general symptoms for different types of skin cancer, but these symptoms are not the same for all patients and the disease may occur with different symptoms.
It should be noted that the presence of these symptoms in your body does not mean that you have skin cancer, but never interpret this as meaning that these symptoms are not important and see a doctor as soon as possible if you see them.
Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC). About 90% of people with skin cancers have basal cell carcinoma. Cancer cells in this type of cancer grow slowly and often appear in parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight; For example in the head and neck areas.
According to unofficial statistics, about 90% of skin cancers are associated with sun exposure.
Exposure to radiation and certain toxins can also cause this type of skin cancer.
Scar or a flat, brownish, fleshy scar
Bleeding and scaly, scars that recur frequently and heal again
A pearl-like or waxy bump on the skin
Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma, like basal cell carcinoma, most commonly occurs in areas of the body that are exposed to sunlight. People with dark skin in areas of the body that are not exposed to sunlight also develop this type of skin cancer.
- Rough and red bumps appear
- The presence of a thick skin lesion with a scaly surface
Symptoms of melanoma
Melanoma can occur in all parts of the body, even areas that are not exposed to sunlight. Melanoma can occur in both healthy areas of the skin and in areas with moles.
Everyone with any skin color is prone to melanoma. In people with darker skin, the cancer is more common in the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, under the fingernails, and under the toenails.
Melanoma often includes the following symptoms:
An empty area that has changed in size or color or is bleeding.
- There is a small lesion on the skin, which does not have a regular border and may be pink, red, white, blue or dark blue.
- The presence of a lesion on the skin that is itchy or burning.
Dark lesions on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, fingernails, toenails, and mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, vagina, or anus.
The most important changes that can be a sign of a mole cancer are expressed with ABCDE, which we will briefly mention:
A (Asymmetry): The shape of the mole is irregular and unusual.
B (Border): The border or edges of the mole are indistinct, blurred and irregular.
C (Color): The mole changes color or different colors appear in it.
D (Diameter): If the diameter of the mole is larger than the small eraser on the pencil (6 mm), it is suspected.
E (Evolution): If the size, shape or color of the mole changes. (This is the most important sign of melanoma.)
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancer can have varying degrees of symptoms. Of course, this is also true for other types of skin cancer, and each of them will show different symptoms at different stages and as they progress.
Diagnosis of skin cancer
The first step in diagnosing skin cancer is a regular personal examination. If you notice one of the symptoms, see a specialist at the earliest opportunity to determine the cause of those symptoms. The shape, size, color, dry scales, and possibly bleeding area of the suspect area will be examined. If the cause of these symptoms is diagnosed as skin cancer, a biopsy will be performed, even if the risk is low. In a biopsy, which is a simple and safe test, part of the area suspected of having skin cancer is removed for testing and sent to a laboratory.
If the biopsy test is positive, more tests will be done to make a definitive diagnosis of cancer. In addition to helping to make a more accurate diagnosis of the disease, these tests also determine the extent and type of cancer.
Prevention of skin cancer
The following can be effective in preventing skin cancer:
Avoid exposure to sunlight in the middle of the day: To prevent skin cancer, it is better not to be exposed to sunlight even in cloudy weather and in winter in the middle of the day.
Use a sunscreen: Using a sunscreen with an SPF appropriate for your area, repeated every two hours, can play an effective role in preventing skin cancer.
Wearing the right clothes: Since sunscreens can not completely protect the body from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it is better to wear the right clothes such as long-sleeved blouses, hats and clothes that completely cover the legs. Take action.
- Do not expose yourself to artificial ultraviolet light: Exposing ultraviolet rays to the skin greatly increases the risk of skin cancer.
Awareness of photosensitizers: The use of some medications, such as certain antibiotics, can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Knowing this and consulting with a doctor can help you take extra precautions to prevent skin cancer due to this factor.
Serious abnormal skin changes: Any abnormal skin changes should be discussed with your doctor. Failure to regularly examine all areas of the skin can cause serious and dangerous risks in the event of skin cancer.
Treatment of skin cancer
Definitive treatment for skin cancer depends on how advanced the disease is. The types of skin cancer treatments are as follows:
a. Mohs Surgery: The surgeon removes the tumor and a thin layer of surrounding tissue with a scalpel.
b. Skin Removal Surgery: The surgeon removes the cancerous mass and a certain amount of healthy skin around it to make sure the cancerous tissue is completely removed.
c. Electrosurgical: The tumor and surrounding areas are burned using heat.
d. Cryo-surgery: In this method, the tumor is frozen. Sometimes this method needs to be repeated several times.
2. Immunotherapy / Topical Chemotherapy: This method is sometimes used to treat certain types of skin cancers or precancerous lesions.
3. Radiation therapy: This method is recommended when there is a risk of the cancer returning or spreading to the internal organs of the body. It is also used in cases where the surgeon has difficult access to cancerous masses or in patients for whom surgery is not possible.
4. Chemotherapy: If the cancer has spread from the skin to the surrounding tissues or other organs of the body, this method is used to treat it.