Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. The most common cause is prolonged exposure to the sun, but it can also develop in places where there has been no sunlight. There are four types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma , and Merkel cell carcinoma.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 300 million Americans suffer from skin cancer each year, which equates to a combined cost of treatment of just over $ 8 billion per year. Skin cancer, and especially melanoma, affects all skin types equally, although people with darker skin tones have a higher risk of losing early detection and therefore have a lower survival rate .
Survival rates for skin cancer vary by type. In the case of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, the survival rate is 92% when detected early. Prevention and early diagnosis are essential. Knowing the signs and symptoms of skin cancer can help you determine if you need to look for suspicious moles or spots on your skin.
When is the problem related to a mole?
If a new or existing mole begins to change in shape, color, size and becomes scaly, hard, or bleeding, it's time to make an appointment with a dermatologist to get it checked out. In rare cases, a mole can turn into melanoma. With early melanoma, the shape of the mole becomes asymmetrical and uneven.
Nodular basal cell carcinoma
Nodular basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs most often on the scalp. This type of cancer begins in the basal cells, which are tasked with creating new skin cells to push old ones to the surface of the skin. Nodular basal cell carcinoma is responsible for 60% -80% of all basal cell carcinomas. An estimated 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the United States, of which 2.5 to 3.4 million are nodular basal cell carcinomas.
This type of cancer manifests as a round, pearly papule surrounded by red thread-like lines on the skin, made up of small blood vessels. The risk of developing nodular basal cell carcinoma may increase if you spend a lot of time in the sun, live in sunny, high-altitude locations, and receive radiation therapy.
Other risk factors include:
- Shiny skin
- Get older
- Family or personal history of skin cancer.
- Taking immunosuppressants
- Long-term exposure to arsenic
- Some rare genetic disorders, such as basal cell nevus syndrome.
Although this type of cancer is common, it responds well to treatment with a 5-year relative survival rate of 100%.
Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma
Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma occurs when a tumor invades the dermis (the inner layer of the two main layers of skin) through fine filaments between the collagen fibers. This aggressive type of skin cancer is more difficult to diagnose and treat due to its location. Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma usually presents as scar tissue or thickening of the skin and requires a biopsy for a proper diagnosis.
To remove this type of basal cell carcinoma, a special form of surgery called Moos is used. During Mohs surgery , also called Mohs micrographic surgery, thin layers of skin are removed until cancerous tissue remains.
Superficial basal cell carcinoma
Superficial basal cell carcinoma, also known as basal cell carcinoma in situ, usually occurs on the shoulders or upper trunk, but can also be found on the legs and arms. This type of cancer is generally non-invasive because it grows slowly and is fairly easy to detect and diagnose. It is reddish or pink in color and may crust over or ooze. Superficial basal cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 15% to 26% of all basal cell carcinoma cases.
Squamous cell carcinoma (early stage)
When the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin become cancerous, it is called squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer has an extremely high survival rate, although it can be aggressive in nature. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious complications.
Squamous cell carcinoma occurs most often in areas of the body that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face, lips, ears, scalp, shoulders, neck, back of the arms, and forearms. . They can also develop on skin that has been damaged in some way, usually in scars or sores on the skin. In the early stages of squamous cell carcinoma, a nodule forms that resembles an opalescent wart. The warty nodule may also have a depression in the middle that looks like a crater.
Squamous cell carcinoma (central hyperkeratosis)
Squamous cell carcinoma at a later stage is more distinct from basal cell carcinoma because of its distinctive appearance. The warty nodule develops into patches that may be scaly and red (called hyperkeratosis). It can also manifest as an open sore. When this happens, the crusty skin may periodically bleed and itch. It is important to seek treatment at this stage or earlier because squamous cell carcinoma can invade the body and lead to more serious health problems.
Squamous cell carcinoma affects approximately 1 million Americans each year. This type of cancer is greater in both men and people over 50 years of age. People with light skin, hair, and eyes are at higher risk of developing this type of skin cancer. A weakened immune system, chronic infection, blood or bone marrow cancer, organ transplants, or skin damage or damage can also increase the risk of this disease. People with xeroderma pigmentosa , a rare genetic disorder that reduces the body's ability to repair DNA in the skin after sun damage, are also at increased risk.
Squamous cell carcinoma (ulceration)
When squamous cell carcinoma grows or is affected by an ulcer, it is called a Marjolin ulcer. Although marjolin ulcers can be considered an infiltrative type of basal cell carcinoma, they are most often squamous cell carcinomas. Marjoline ulcers form on skin that has been damaged in some way, but mainly on severely burned skin. They can also arise from bone infections, pressure sores, frostbite, skin grafts, and radiation.
A marjolin ulcer can take 11 to 75 years to turn into cancer, although the average duration is 30 to 35 years. This type of cancer is quite aggressive, even if it grows slowly, and can invade other parts of the body. In the early stages of this disease, the damaged skin where the ulcer has formed begins to itch and burn, and soon after a new ulcer appears. This ulcer is usually flat with raised, hard edges and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as severe pain, bleeding, crusting, or foul-smelling pus.
Squamous cell carcinoma in situ
Squamous cell carcinoma in situ , also known as Bowen's disease, is a precancerous condition that appears as a red or brown patch or plaque on the skin that grows slowly over time. The spots are often found on the legs and lower body, as well as the head and neck. In rare cases, it is found on the hands and feet, in the genital area, and around the anus.
Bowen's disease is rare – only 15 out of 100,000 people develop the disease each year. The disease generally affects the Caucasian population, but women are more likely to develop Bowen's disease than men. Most cases occur in adults over the age of 60. Like other types of skin cancer, Bowen's disease can develop after prolonged exposure to the sun. It can also develop after radiation therapy. Other causes include immunosuppression, skin damage, inflammatory skin conditions, and human papillomavirus infection.
Bowen's disease is usually treated and does not progress to squamous cell carcinoma. Up to 16% of cases turn into cancer.
What is the difference between basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma?
Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are not usually life-threatening, but squamous cell carcinomas are more likely to invade deeper layers of the skin.
Melanoma (early signs)
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Risk factors include sun exposure, fair skin, and a family history of melanoma. Some studies show that genetic factors play a role in 72% of cases. Use the ABCDE method to test for this cancer:
- Asymmetry Benign moles are usually symmetrical in shape. If the mole is asymmetric, it could be a sign of melanoma.
- Border : Harmless moles will have regular borders, while moles that can be melanoma often have a ragged border.
- Color : The color of a mole can be a good indicator of whether it requires further examination. Melanoma moles will have a more pronounced coloration, which can vary. They can be red, black, dark brown, or flesh-colored.
- Diameter : the size of the mole is important. If the mole is larger than the eraser at the end of the pencil, it needs to be examined further.
- Developing : Males that change over time may need to be evaluated. Your healthcare professional should always check for changes in color, size, shape, or elevation.
The ABCDE method will help you track moles and any changes that require a visit to a dermatologist.
Melanoma ("The Ugly Duckling" sign)
The ugly duckling melanoma sign is a surveillance method that helps people identify a mole that may be a sign of melanoma.
Nodular melanoma most commonly occurs on the legs, trunk, arms, and head, but it can develop anywhere on the body. It looks like a mole, an insect bite, or a pimple. It is usually solid, especially black, but it can also be pink, brownish-brown, blue, gray, red, or white. Men are more likely to develop nodular melanoma than women, and the condition is common in adults over the age of 50.
The EFG method can be used to detect this type of melanoma:
- Get up If the mole rises above the skin, it may be a cause for concern. The height can be flat or uneven.
- Hard : Nodular melanomas are usually very hard to the touch.
- Growth : Past growth is a cause for serious concern and requires further investigation.
Nodular melanomas grow rapidly. The way to distinguish a new, normally growing mole from a nodular melanoma is that the melanoma will continue to grow, outpacing the typical two to three week growth of a normal mole.
Amelanotic melanoma often has little or no pigmentation, giving it a pinkish or whitish tint. It represents the majority of melanoma cases in children. This can be difficult to detect with the ABDCE method because this type of melanoma does not show the typical characteristics of other types of melanoma.
Melanoma (acral lentiginous)
Acral lentiginous melanoma occurs on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or under the nails . It can develop on its own or within an existing mole. At first, it looks like a flat patch that becomes discolored, but it can penetrate the skin as it passes through the basement membrane, the part of the skin that lies between the outer layer (epidermis) of the skin and the dermis. This type of melanoma usually looks like a large mole with a smooth surface and thickens over time. Its color ranges from brown, blue and gray to black and red.
It occurs in all skin types and colors, but is the most common form of skin cancer found in people with darker skin tones, accounting for 29 to 72% of all melanoma cases in people with dark skin. . Both men and women suffer from acral lentiginous melanoma alike, with most cases occurring in adults over 40 years of age.
Merkel cell carcinoma
This rare type of skin cancer grows rapidly and presents as a flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule. It is most often found on the face, head, or neck. Older adults are more likely to develop Merkel cell carcinoma, and risk factors include sun exposure, immunosuppression, fair skin, and a history of other skin cancers. It is very aggressive and can easily spread throughout the body. The risk of their return is also high. It is estimated that one in 130,000 people in the United States will develop Merkel cell carcinoma at some point in their lives.
Merkel cell carcinoma
The clinical features of Merkel cell carcinoma have led to the development of the AEIOU method, which helps people with early diagnosis:
- Asymptomatic If the node is not painful, Merkel cell carcinoma may be suspected.
- Growing fast . If the nodule grows rapidly in less than three months, it could be a case of Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Immunosuppression A weakened immune system could mean that a person is at increased risk of developing Merkel cell carcinoma.
- Advanced age Adults over 50 are more prone to this type of cancer.
- Exposure to ultraviolet radiation . Since sun exposure can increase the risk of developing this type of skin cancer, observing the amount of sun a person receives is a good way to determine the level of risk when growth occurs.
Merkel cell carcinoma (collision tumor)
Collision tumor occurs when there are several types of skin cancer that are directly adjacent to each other. This occurs most often when someone has Merkel cell cancer and squamous cell carcinoma, but it can also occur with Merkel cell and Bowen's disease or basal cell carcinoma. Collision tumors are more likely to occur in adults older than 60 years after sun exposure.
Get the word of drug information
Most skin cancers are easy to treat if caught early. It is important to know the signs and ways to self-examine moles and nodules on your body to determine if new moles or other skin changes are normal or cancerous. In general, it is recommended that a dermatologist examine any growth, even if it appears normal.
Taking precautions to prevent skin cancer, such as avoiding excessive sun exposure, sunburn, and sunburn, can significantly reduce your risk of developing the condition. Always use a sunscreen with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 15 and cover your body as much as possible outdoors.
Frequently asked questions
Skin cancer can present as moles, nodules, rashes, scaly patches, or sores that do not heal. The most important thing to watch out for are skin growths or blemishes that are different from other areas of the skin and change over time. Other common symptoms are itching and bleeding.
Melanoma is the cause of most skin cancer deaths. These cancers are often asymmetrical, irregular, and unevenly colored. Melanomas look different from other moles and change in size and shape over time.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of lip cancer. It begins with a warty bump, which may or may not have a dimple in the middle. A scab may form, but the area will not heal and may bleed at times.