All you need to know about skin cancer
Cancer has been a disease that has manifested itself to be one of the scariest diseases of the century. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects people in the country. It can develop on any part of the skin such as the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. In the advanced stages, it can spread to nearby tissues and organs.
What are the types of skin cancer?
Skin cancer commonly occurs as two types; the other types are not as common.
- Keratinocyte cancer develops in the cells of the skin known as keratinocytes. It has two subtypes, BCC (Basal Cell Carcinoma) and SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma).
- Melanoma is the second major type of skin cancer. It develops in the melanocyte cells of the skin. These cells are responsible for generating the brown pigment of the skin.
- Other types of cancer that are not so common are Merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, skin adnexal tumors, cutaneous lymphoma and other kinds of sarcomas.
If you check out photos of skin cancer, you can distinguish between the different types of cancer.
How frequent is each type of skin cancer?
According to a study, 50% of the population in the country develops either BCC or SCC at least once in their lifetime. Every year in the country, around 3.5 million cases of BCC and SCC are diagnosed. In the year 2014, approximately 76,000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the country.
Basal Cell Carcinoma develops on the back, neck, hands, arms, scalp, and face of a person. This is because these areas of the body get exposed to the sun. Squamous Cell Carcinoma also appears mostly in those parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. However, both BCC and SCC can also develop on areas that are not exposed to sunlight such as inside the mouth and on the genitals.
Melanoma is a serious and dangerous type of cancer. If you look at the skin cancer photos, you can see that melanoma can look like a regular mole when it develops on the skin. Compared to BCC or SCC, melanoma affects a lesser number of people. However, it is deadly cancer that affects men more than women.
The third type of cancer that develops in the skin is actinic keratosis (AK). When skin is exposed frequently to the sun, it is damaged by the ultraviolet rays. As a result, dry, rough and scaly patches develop on the skin. This cancerous condition known as actinic keratosis is not as common as melanoma or keratinocyte cancer. More than 58 million people in the United States have AK. The chances for getting cancer of the skin increase with age. 50% people in the country develop keratinocyte cancer by the time they are 65 years old.
Which age group is affected by skin cancer?
Men who are over 50 years old have a greater chance of being diagnosed with BCC or SCC. The most common type of cancer in those aged between 25 and 29 is melanoma. People whose skin is exposed to the UV rays of the sun for a long time have a greater chance of being diagnosed with skin cancer.
Risk factors of skin cancer
The common risk factors are as follows:
- The color of the skin
People who have fairer skin are prone to have cancer of the skin. In this group, people with red or blonde hair have a greater chance of developing cancer on any part of their skin.
Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun can result in sunburns and blisters which increases the chance of melanoma.
If a member of your family has cancer in any part of the skin, your chances of developing cancer are high.
- Use of tobacco
People who chew tobacco or smoke have a greater chance of developing SCC in the throat or mouth.
- Health history
People with autoimmune disease or those who have had an organ transplant have a greater chance of developing cancer of the skin. Certain medicines, if taken for a long time, such as immunosuppressant drugs also increases the risk.
People who stay at high altitudes have higher chances of developing melanoma, BCC or SCC because the UV rays of the sun are much stronger at higher altitudes.
Common symptoms of skin cancer
The common symptoms are as follows:
- Bleeding from a particular area of the skin
- A sore that is not healing
- A mole that has irregular borders
- Spreading pigment in an area of the skin
- Sudden itchiness, tenderness or pain
- A fast-growing spot on the skin
You must book an appointment if you find any of these symptoms. You can check out pictures of skin cancer for understanding the symptoms better.
When you follow a few basic preventive measures, the risk of getting affected by skin cancer is considerably reduced.
Avoid the sun especially when the UV rays are powerful. Before you go out in the sun, apply a sunscreen on your skin. .
Treatment for skin cancer
Cryosurgery, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, and photodynamic therapy are the common methods of treatment. The treatment for skin cancer is successful if cancer has not spread.