In the U.S. skin cancer is more prevalent than any other type of cancer. It occurs when the body develops abnormal cells. The spread of these cell to other areas of the body can be detrimental to your health. The abnormal cells and their growth are caused by the skin being exposed to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation. However, cancer cells can occur in areas that are not exposed directly to sunlight.
To slow the growth and kill cancerous cells, a treatment plan must be implemented. Since treatment depends on the type and depth of cancer, it is beneficial to understand the types, diagnosis, causes, symptoms and treatment of skin cancer.
About skin cancer
The epidermis is a layer of skin that provides a protective cover for skin cells. It contains three types of common cells, which are basal, squamous and melanocytes. Three of the most common type of skin cancer are named after the cells they affect. The type of skin cancer includes basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
BCC accounts for up to 80% of skin cancer. The cancer cells can be found in areas, such as the neck, face and hands that are directly exposed to the sun. BCC is cancer that grows slowly, and it does not spread throughout the body. However, as the cancerous cells grow, mutate and replicate, they can spread to the lymph nodes, the dermis and the bones.
The BCC originates in the epidermis basal cell layer, which is the top layer of the skin. The epidermis protects the body from the environment. If BCC is not found and treated effectively and promptly, it can damage the tissue as well as the surrounding area, which can lead to disfigurement.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
SCC accounts for up to 20 per cent of skin cancer. If they grow large, they can spread throughout the body. SCC usually occurs on the lips, neck, ears, face and hands and they can originate in ulcers or scars.
Melanoma is less common than squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. It is, however, the most feared skin cancer because it is the cause of a majority of deaths. Melanoma can found on the legs of women and the back of men. It also can found on the feet, the hands, and under the toenails and fingernails of all sexes.
Melanoma can be treated if it is found early, but it drops when cancer spreads to your lymph nodes and organs, which include the lungs, the bones, the brain and the liver. More advanced treatments have made a difference in advanced melanomas and in the survival rate.
The diagnosis of skin cancer usually begins with a physical examination and your history of symptoms. If you have skin lesions, moles that continue to change or any other types of skin growth, your physician will have the area biopsied to confirm a diagnosis. The treatment recommendation depends on the stage and the type of cancer. Some of the treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or radiation.
Skin cancer symptoms may include an ever-changing mole, new spots on the skin, or a sore that does not heal. You can reduce your exposure to skin cancer by avoiding or limiting your exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet radiation. You should check the forecast for the UV index in your area every day. Learn more click here. Early detection requires that you check your skin ongoing for any suspicious changes. Early detection can be advantageous in the successful treatment of skin cancer.
Skin cancer treatment options will depend on the type, size, depth and location of the lesion.
- Standard treatment: This type of treatment, which is routine treatments, can be used when the cancer is found in the early stages. A standard treatment can be used for localized squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. It is effective and safe and with little or no side effects. Tumours and small lesions can be surgically removed with cauterization or killed with a small dose of radiation. They also can also be frozen with liquid nitrogen.
- Surgery: When squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma tumours start to spread, the cancerous cells can be removed surgically. Such surgeries and procedures include:
- Excisional surgery can be performed on any form of skin cancer. The physician removes cancerous tissue.
- Mohr surgery is performed when the skin cancer is recurring, or it covers a large area or on more difficult areas to treat such as the nose.
- Curettage is a procedure where the physician uses a curet (circular blade) to scrapes layers of cancerous cells.
- Radiation Therapy: This method uses energy beams that are high powered to kill cancerous cells. It is used when surgery is not sufficient.
- Chemotherapy: This method uses drugs to kill cancerous cells.
- Photodynamic therapy: This method destroys cancerous cells with a combination of drugs and laser light.
- Biological therapy: This method uses the immune system to kill cancerous cells.