Skin Cancer- Symptoms, Types, Causes, and Treatment

What is Skin Cancer?

The gift of skin to living beings is one we cannot thank for enough. Not only does it form a protective layer in the exterior of the body, it also provides us with the aesthetics of a complete, developed body. Skin is the longest organ of the body. Skin Cancer occurs when the cells of the skin abnormally multiply. These cells are essentially malign in nature and slowly spread throughout. This process of invasion of cancerous cells to other cells and organs is called metastasis. The cancerous cells overtake the healthy cells and overwhelm them. They deprive the healthy cells off oxygen and nutrients.

Types of Skin Cancer:

There are essentially three types of skin cancer. They are as under:

1. Basal Cell carcinoma:

This kind of cancer is the most common one. The fair skinned population is affected most by this type of cancer due to exposure to the harmful sun rays. This kind of skin cancer is does not spread too far but it can be disfiguring.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma:

This type of skin cancer occurs in the squamous cell which forms the upper most layer of the skin. This type of skin cancer also occurs due to exposure to UV rays of the sun. These cancer cells may cause the skin to bleed.

3. Melanoma:

It is difficult to ascertain the cause of this kind of cancer. It is a result of the combined causes of genetic factors and harmful rays of the sun. This type of skin cancer is the most dangerous one and if left untreated, they can spread to other organs as well.

Causes of Skin Cancer:

Skin Cancer occurs due to the mutations of the cell of the skin. Mutations of the DNA cause the cells to grow out of control. It starts with the mutation of the uppermost layer of the skin-the epidermis.

1. Ultraviolet Light:

Those were fine old days when the rays of the sun was a source for Vitamin D. Along with Vitamin D, it also emits harmful Ultraviolet Rays. These rays cause radiations in the skin and lead to lesions thus causing cancer.

2. Fair Skin:

Skin Cancer could happen to anyone but the risk factor rises among those who have less amount of pigment melanin in their skin. this is the pigment that gives colour to the skin. More melanin means darker skin tone. Fair skin means a lesser level of melanin content in the skin. Melanin acts as a shield against cancer and thus light skinned people are more prone to contracting this disease.

3. History of Sunburns:

Having more sunburns and blisters as a child would act as a pre-condition to skin cancer in adulthood.

4. Moles:

People who have moles and abnormal growth of cells in the skin are more likely to turn cancerous.

5. Precancerous Skin Lesions:

Having skin lesions known as actinic keratoses can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. They occur as rough and scaly patches on the skins of people who have damaged skin due to exposure to the sun.

6. Genetic Factors:

Genes play a very important role in tracking the plausible risk of contraction of skin cancer. A family history may put oneself to more risk of skin cancer than those with no such family history.

7. Exposure to Radiation:

Exposure to radiation due to treatment of other skin diseases like eczema may also cause skin cancer. Those working in such radiating centers may also fall prey to cancer attack.

8. Exposure to Harmful Substances:

Exposure to harmful substances like arsenic increases the risk of contracting skin diseases and skin cancer.


9 Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer:

1. Mole or Skin Lesions:

The main symptoms is the change in skin which includes a mole or sin lesions. This could be a change in the existing mole.

2. Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma:

The skin appears as small, smooth, pearly or waxy bumps. These changes appear on the skin.

3. Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma:

It appears as a firm, red nodule. The skin may feel itching and it may bleed as well. Scaly flat lesions may appear on the skin surface as well.

4. Symptoms of Melanoma Skin Cancer:

It appears as a pigmented patch or bump on the skin. It may resemble a normal mole but looks more irregular than the usual mole.

5. Asymmetry:

The shape of the mole is not the same throughout. The shape of the mole is not even throughout.

6. Border:

The edges of the skin become ragged and blurred.

7. Color:

The colour of the skin becomes uneven. Some areas of the skin appear red, some areas appear brown and some others may appear tanned.

8. Diameter:

The diameter of the moles that appear on the skin changes. It becomes huge. Around as huge as 7-8 mm. The entire skin may develop moles as well.

9. Appearance of Small Blood Vessels:

In Basal Cell Carcinoma, small blood vessels appear to be visible on the layer of the skin. The skin also develops depressions.

Diagnosis of Skin Cancer:

In order to diagnose skin cancer, the part of the affected area is taken for a sample and biopsy is conducted thereupon. The sample tissue which is taken from the skin is examined under the microscope.

Treatment for Skin Cancer:

  1. The treatment of skin cancer depends upon the type of skin cancer, the size of the affected part, the area and the preference of the patient.
  2. The treatment for Squamous cell and Basal cell Carcinoma includes Mohs Surgery which involves excision of cancer and some extra issue.
  3. Physical scraping of the skin followed by electro-surgery which is known as Electrodesiccation and curettage.
  4. Laser Therapy in which rays are used to kill the cells
  5. Drugs or medications coupled with chemotherapy.
  6. For treatment of melanoma skin cancer, radiation therapy is used.

Prevention of Skin Cancer:

In order to prevent skin cancer, one may use the following measures:

1. Application of Sunscreen: 

exposure to harmful UV rays of the sun is a major factor that causes skin cancer. One must protect the skin with application of sunscreens and SPFs

2. Using Cosmetics with UV protection:

Check for the cosmetics that provide UV protection the next time you are out on your shopping spree. This will serve dual purpose of protection and beautification at a single cost.

3. Avoid Sun:

Avoid direct exposure to sun between the 11 am to 4 pm especially during summers. These hours are the ones when the sunrays emit maximum heat that could spoil the skin.

4. Self-examination:

Keep a vigilant eye to skin changes regularly. This especially implies to those who have a genetic history of skin cancer.

5. Keep away from Radiations:

One must try to keep away from areas where radiation like those of X-rays is regularly emitted. If you are employed at such a place, the precautions to be taken are generally instructed. Follow the rules of precaution strictly.

6. Keep Away from Harmful Substances:

As we already read, exposure to harmful substances like arsenic causes skin cancer. Look out for a list of such damaging substances and prevent getting the skin in direct touch with them to avoid risks of skin cancer.

Inspite of the precautions, people may fall prey to skin cancer. An immediate and early attention to any skin transformation is a sure solution to the problem. Consult a specialist immediately after you find any of the above symptom surfacing on your skin. The larger evil could be dodged with your vigilance and attention.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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