Skin cancer is an abnormal growth or tumor of the skin cells that multiply uncontrollably. Although it can develop on the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) anywhere on the body, it’s most frequent occurrences are in areas which are exposed to direct or indirect sunlight such as the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands and the legs. Therefore, skin cancer is usually quite easily detectable.
Globally, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and it’s the cancer with the lowest mortality rates. The number one cause of skin cancer is the exposure to ultraviolet (UV) ray which are derived from sunlight and artificial tanning lamps and beds.
Three Common Forms of Skin Cance
Named after the skin cells which are affected, the following are the three most common forms of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC).
The basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer, it responds most favorably to treatments and it hardly ever spread to other parts of the body. As it develops on the face, ears or neck areas; basal cell carcinoma looks like a pearly or waxy bump. However, when appearing on the chest or back, this type of cancer looks like a scarred injury.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC).
Usually appearing as either a firm red lump on the hands, arms, face, lips, ears and neck or a flat lesion with crusted exterior on the hands and arms, as well as the face, ears and neck; the squamous cell carcinoma can spread but it responds well treatments.
Melanoma is the most dangerous of all skin cancers and it can develop anywhere on the skin, including within existing benign moles which then turn malignant. Melanoma usually appears on the arms and legs of women while it most often appears on the trunk, head or neck of men.
Regardless of where they appear on the body, indications of a possible development of a malignant melanoma are: moles that change color, texture, size, rise or they may begin to bleed; rounded bumps that are shiny and hard; large brownish spots sprinkled with darker speckles; a small sore with irregular borders and scattered spots on the trunk and / or arms and legs; and a wound that appears on the palms of hands, the soles of feet, at the tips of fingers and toes as well as the mucous membranes which coat the mouth, the nose, the vagina and the anus.
Treatments for Skin Cancer
There are numerous treatment plans to combat skin cancer and the choice depends on the size of the tumor, on its type, on its depth, on its location on the body and on its developmental stage. Such treatments may include:
Cryosurgery is a procedure which involves the freezing of early skin cancer cells which then fall off in the process of defrosting.
This type of surgery involves the cutting ways of the skin cancer cells and their surrounding tissues.
In laser therapy a powerful beam of light is used to destroy or vaporize cancer cells.
This type of surgery involves the removal of cancerous cells one layer at a time and thus minimizes scaring of larger lesions of skin cancer.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation.
This surgical procedure requires the removal of most of the growth with the use of a rounded blade (curet) by scraping away at layers. Electric needles are then used to destroy any cells that may be still present.
In an effort to kill cancer cells, chemotherapy involves the use of any number of drugs and they are prescribed as intravenous drips, oral medications or topical creams and ointments.
Radiation therapy is used when surgery is not a feasible option.