Skin cancer

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. There are several types:

  • Non-melanoma skin cancers: a group of cancers that grow slowly and develop in the upper layers of the skin.
  • Basel cell carcinoma (BCC): is the most common type of skin cancer and begins in the cells of the lower epidermis.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): accounts for about 20% of skin cancers and begins in the upper layers of the epidermis.
  • Melanoma skin cancer is more serious and can spread to other parts of the body.

What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

Basal cell carcinoma:

  • Smooth and pearly
  • May be firm and red
  • May sometimes bleed or crust over
  • Never heal completely
  • Itchy

Squamous cell carcinoma:

  • Sensitive to touch
  • Sometimes bleeds
  • May have a hard top
  • The skin surrounding the mole is lifted.

Melanomas usually begin with a change in normal skin or may develop in a mole that is already present.

You can use the ABCDE mole checklist to help determine if a mole has developed into melanoma.

A. Asymmetrical moles

B. The border of a mole is blurred

C. The color of a mole varies

D. The diameter of a mole is irregular and larger than 7 mm

E. Evolving (melanomas often change over time).

What causes skin cancer?

Non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which comes from the sun, as well as tanning beds.

There are also a number of risk factors that can increase the chances of non-melanoma developing:

  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Pale skin that burns easily
  • People with many moles and freckles
  • Medication for a medical condition that suppresses the immune system
  • Previous non-melanoma skin cancer
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Melanoma is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds. Melanomas are caused by very intense exposure to ultraviolet light, such as sunburns on vacation.

The following risk factors increase your chances of developing melanoma:

  • Pale skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Family history of melanoma
  • People with many moles and freckles

How can skin cancer be prevented?

It is possible to reduce your chances of developing skin cancer by reducing exposure to sunlight and avoiding sunburn. You can do this by avoiding tanning beds, covering up outdoors, and using high SPF sunscreen. You can also avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day. In addition, it is important to check your skin regularly and note any changes, as early diagnosis increases the chances of treatment.

What is the treatment for skin cancer?

Non-melanoma skin cancer can be treated by surgically removing the cancerous tumor and surrounding skin. It can also be removed by the use of cryotherapy (freezing). They can also be treated with radiation therapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT). The treatment option depends on the size of the skin cancer, type and location. These cancers are often treated successfully, as the risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body is much lower than with melanomas.

Melanoma skin cancer is treated surgically most of the time, however, treatment depends on the circumstances of your diagnosis. Early detection and treatment can successfully treat melanoma. Advanced treatment for melanoma aims to slow the spread of the cancer and improve symptoms. Melanoma can come back once treated, so regular checkups are essential.