The skin surrounds the complete outer surface of the body and is the major place of interaction with the environment around. It acts as protective armour, save internal tissues from being exposed to trauma, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, extreme temperatures, toxins, and bacteria. Other important feature skin provides sensory perception, immunological monitoring, thermoregulation, and control of imperceptible fluid loss.
The skin has 2 main layers: epidermis and dermis.
The epidermis is composed of several surfaces of squamous epithelial cells. The deepest layer of the epidermis is termed the basal cell layer because it contains a single row of cuboidal cells whose apices rest on a basal lamina composed primarily of type IV collagen. These cells are mitotically active and continually divide to form new keratinocytes in the outermost layer of the epidermis, known as the stratum carenum. Melanocytes and Langerhans cells are interspersed among epidermal keratinocytes; both cell types play important roles in immune surveillance by capturing antigens and presenting them to T lymphocytes.
The dermis consists primarily of connective tissue fibres, such as collagen fibres or elastin fibres. Collagen provides strength and durability to the skin.
Skin cancer is by far the most typical type of cancer. Normally all skin cancers can be diagnosed successfully if they are found early, so knowing what to look for is important
People with fair-skin may have the misconception that they don’t need to worry about skin cancer. After all, they got the lion’s share of the gene pool’s lottery ticket and only have to deal with a pesky case of sunburn once in a while. But just because you don’t burn easily doesn’t mean you can sit back and relaxed against skin cancer. Any person can have skin cancer, regardless of skin colour.
It can be hard to imagine that a seemingly harmless sun spot could be a skin cancer, given the number of people who develop it. But anyone, including you or your loved ones, can get skin cancer.
What are the symptoms for skin cancer?
Sometimes skin cancers have accompanying symptoms: a mole that’s growing bigger or turning colours; a sore that doesn’t heal or is painful; a wart-like growth; or an open sore that doesn’t heal within four weeks.
You may also develop other symptoms as your skin cancer progresses, such as:
What are the risk factors related to skin cancer?
Skin Cancer is ultimate result from the Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. It can also come from tanning beds. However, medical researchers have identified some other risk factors:
- A plenty of moles: A body with more than hundred moles is more likely to become victim of melanoma.
- Light skin colour, light hair, and freckles: The risk of developing skin cancer is higher among people with fair skin. Those who easily get burn have an high risk.
- Family history: Approx. one tenth of people with history of having skin cancer have a high risk to get affected.
- Personal history: Melanoma is mostly likely to reappear in a person who has already had it. Person who have had basal cell or squamous cell cancers also have a high risk of developing skin cancer.
- Other possible risky factor of skin cancer contain x-rays, trauma and several chemicals. For example, dentists frequently develop skin cancer on their hands from working with X-rays.
What Are the Different Types of Skin Cancer?
Skin cancers can be Non-melanoma types or melanoma types. Non-melanoma types include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and actinic keratosis. Melanoma is the deadliest.
Non-melanoma types are usually not life-threatening but can cause disfigurement if they grow into surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body, such as lymph nodes or internal organs. Melanomas are much more serious because they grow quickly and spread rapidly to other parts of the body. They can also return after treatment.
There are three most common types of skin cancer:
- basal cell carcinoma (BCC),
- squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and
Each type looks different and needs to be treated differently. A person might have not only one but one or more than one type simultaneously. Sometimes BCC or SCC will turn into melanoma, a much more hazardous form of skin cancer.
Actinic Keratosis: These precancerous lesions can appear on your face, ears, scalp, hands and arms from overexposure to sun over time. They can also form on areas not uncover to the sun light like the back of your hands and forearms. Some people call them “pre-cancers” because they may turn into squamous cell carcinomas if left untreated; however, actinic keratoses can also go away on their own without treatment.
The general form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It develops in the basal cells, the cells located near the bottom of the epidermis that help protect your skin from UV radiation. BCC occurs when cells at the base of the outer layer of the skin grow out of control. BCC is rarely deadly and might be removed completely with surgery.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is another kind of skin cancer that can occur on the body and that sometimes develops into melanoma. SCC can occur as warts, scaly patches, or growths that resemble moles. SCC sometimes occurs on sun-exposed areas such as the face and hands, but it may also develop on less exposed areas like the scalp and ears.
Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer that occurs when pigment-producing cells in your body begin to grow out of control. One way to tell if a mole or freckle is melanoma is by looking at its borders — if they are irregular, that could be a sign.
Use the “ABCDE” method to determine if a mole or freckle may be melanoma.
Half of a mole does not parallel the other, cancer mole is asymmetric.
The edges are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
The colour is different from one area to another; shades of tan, brown, or black; sometimes white, red, or blue. A number of different colours may be present within one mole.
The spot is larger than 0.6 centimetres (approx. ¼ inch) across, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
The mole is changing in size, shape, or colour.
If you happen to find any of the above symptoms book an appointment to a doctor as soon as possible.
Diagnosis for the skin cancer
The treatment methods include excision (surgical removal) with suturing (sewing), curettage and electrodessication (scraping and burning with an electric needle), radiotherapy (x-ray treatments), cryosurgery (freezing), photodynamic therapy (shining light or laser on cells that have taken up or been activated by a chemical), topical chemotherapy (chemical destruction) and Mohs Surgery (microscopically controlled excision). Interferon has been used in the treatment of melanoma, squamous-cell cancer (SCC) and basal-cell cancer (BCC). See Skin Cancer Removal Methods for BCC and SCC and Melanoma.
Your doctor may suggest one or more options of the following diagnoses:
Mohs surgery: This treatment is typically used for basal cell carcinomas. Your skin cancer is removed layer by layer and viewed under a microscope. When no sign of cancer remains, the procedure is complete.
Excisional surgery: The growth and the surrounding skin that appears healthy are removed with a scalpel. The healthy skin is then tested for evidence of skin cancer cells. If cancer cells are evident, the procedure is repeated.
Radiation therapy: High-dose X-rays may be used to destroy basal cell carcinoma cells. This treatment isn’t used often because basal cell carcinoma has a high cure rate with other methods. But it may be an option when other treatments can’t be done or have failed.
Photodynamic therapy: After removing as much of your growth as possible, your doctor applies a cream to your skin that makes the remaining area sensitive to light. A few hours later, you’re exposed to a special kind of light that destroys any remaining cancer cells.
Creams: Some creams used for actinic keratosis can also be used for superficial squamous cell carcinomas.
If you have a suspicious lesion, the doctor will carry out a skin biopsy. In this procedure, they might remove the entire growth or a part of it for examination under a microscope. There are two types of skin biopsies:
Shave biopsy. Using a sharp blade, your doctor shaves off the top layers of your growth. He or she then applies an electrical current to stop any bleeding and cauterizes the wound. You may have stitches.
Punch biopsy. Your doctor uses a special tool that removes a circle of tissue from your growth. He or she may use stitches to close the wound.
The type of biopsy you have depends on the size and location of your growth and how much tissue needs to be removed for testing.
What are the Self Care options you have in hand?
Practice safe sun. Avoid indoor tanning and seek shade when appropriate. Try not to go out when the sun’s rays are powerful between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so plan outdoor activities accordingly. Free handed apply a broad spread of (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
Remember to protect your eyes as well with sunglasses, further your lips with lip balm containing sunscreen.
If you notice a spot that is different from others, or that changes, itches or bleeds, you should make an appointment to see a dermatologist. The best way to find skin cancer early, when it is easiest to treat, is to check your own skin regularly.