Skin is the largest organ of the body as it covers an area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and other harmful elements. It helps to regulate our body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat and cold. This largest organ of the body can also be affected by cancer.
Skin Cancer is of Two Types
- Malignant Melanoma.
- Non- Malignant Melanoma.
The skin separates the human body from the environment and protects the body from the determinants that cause skin cancer.
Main Factors for Skin Cancer
- Exposure to sunlight
- Ozone depletion and
- Chemical exposures.
There are many types of skin cancers and each of them looks different. So it is very important to see a doctor if there are lumps, bumps, spots, sores or any other new marks or changes on the skin. It mostly occurs on the nose, forehead, ears, lower lip, hands, and any other area of the body that is exposed to the sun.
Types of Skin Cancer
- Basal cell carcinoma,
- Epithelial skin cancer and Oncogenic Virus Infection
- Kaposi Sarcoma
- Neuroendocrine skin cancer
- Squamous cell cancer.
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA:
This is the most common type of skin cancer. It mainly occurs in the areas that are exposed to the sun like head and neck. The changes that take place are
- A white, skin-coloured or pink bump on the skin,
- A brown, black or blue lesion,
- A flat, scaly, reddish patch and
- A white, waxy, scar on the skin.
- Sun exposure, living in higher altitudes using commercial tanning beds.
- Radiation therapy treating acne or other skin rashes,
- Fair skin, who burn in the sun to turn it into light skin, red or blond hair or light- coloured eyes.
- Age, family history.
- Exposure to arsenic—drinking contaminated water, working where arsenic is produced and used.
- Avoid sun in the afternoons.
- Using sunscreen lotion every two hours, while going for a swim or if one perspires.
- Wearing protective clothing and a broad-brimmed hat.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Any changes on the skin immediately must see a doctor.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If it is not treated at the right time, it can spread to the other parts of the body, including organs.
Melanoma starts in melanocyte cells, in existing moles or when growth occurs in the skin. These cells grow abnormally and spread into the surrounding tissue. Melanoma is more dangerous than Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Causes of Melanoma:
- Skin is damaged and DNA fails to repair it.
- Family history.
- Exposure to ultraviolet light.
- Skin type, affected by high levels of UV.
- The more moles a person has the more risk.
Five lifestyle changes are necessary:
- Once in three months, all the family members’ skin should be checked from head to toe.
- Apply sunscreen to your face, neck and hands, which are exposed to the sun.
- Tanning beds should not be used. Australia has banned these beds.
- Hot hours stay in the shade and wear hats and cotton shirts, covering shoulders, chest and back.
- Check for irregular moles and visit a dermatologist once a year.
Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Immunotherapy, Photodynamic therapy, Cancer vaccines.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA:
This develops in the middle or outer layer of the skin. Generally, it is not life-threatening, if it is not treated it can spread to the other parts of the body and can cause serious complications.
Exposure to UV, tanning beds or lamps.
It can be seen on the skin of the scalp, behind hands, ears, lips, mouth, bottoms of feet and also on genitals. The signs are:
- A red nodule
- A new sore inside the mouth
- A red sore or patch on or in the anus or genitals.
- Fair Skin having less pigment, blond or red hair light coloured eyes,
- Exposure to sun- UV light, spending a lot of time in the sun.
- A history of sunburns.
- Weakened immune system.
- Rare genetic disorder.
Can be treated if found early. The doctor treats in his clinic itself.
Always better not to delay the treatment.
Photodynamic therapy is a chemical is applied to the skin and the area is exposed to a wavelength of light.
Two topical chemotherapies are administered
1) Fluorouracil-(5-FU) cream or lotion is applied for every three to six weeks at home.
2) Imiquimod—a topical lotion is applied at home. In this treatment, the local immune cells attack abnormal tissue.
Surgery can remove squamous cell lesions.
Radiation Therapy x-rays help in treating the tumours.
Electronic Skin Surface Brachytherapy( ESSB ) This is a new form of radiation therapy administered directly to the skin. Smooth, round disks are attached to the radiation therapy machine and the tumour is treated.
Avoid sun’s rays during afternoons, plan outdoor activities in the evenings, winter or when it is cloudy.
Apply sunscreen every two hours, during swimming and when you perspire.
Wear dark colored clothes-covering arms and legs. Use sunglasses. Check regularly, for new skin growth, changes in moles, bumps on face, neck, ear, scalp, between the buttocks, chest, underarms. Any changes on the skin report to the doctor.
Knowledge is limited and awareness is being spread through social media, educational programmers’ and a number of physicians, health care professionals, medical students are playing a major role to spread awareness regarding skin cancers.
Skin cancer awareness and attitudes of the people towards it is studied and their beliefs are taken into consideration before sharing the prevention methods with them.
So, it’s clear that skin cancer is an important health problem worldwide among all the types of cancers. If diagnosed on time, it can be treated. Now it is said that one in every three cancer cases diagnosed it is skin cancer.
For Consultation : Cancer Specialist and oncologist