The most common type of skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) occurs on the skin’s surface, such as on the face, neck, chest, and hands. It can spread to other parts of the body. The first signs of skin cancer often go unnoticed. However, if diagnosed early, skin cancer can be treated. is completely curable. In this article, we have shared everything about skin cancer and its first signs.
What is Skin Cancer?
The American Cancer Society defines skin cancer as any malignancy that starts in skin cells and spreads to nearby tissue or organs, such as bone marrow, lymph nodes, liver, or brain. Skin cancers are grouped into two main categories: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
Skin cancers can be caused by sun exposure or other factors such as excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun (UV rays), chronic irritation from cosmetics or other products, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, and damage from radiation therapy after treatment for other cancers.
Types of Skin Cancer
- Basal cell carcinoma: This skin cancer starts at the epidermis’s bottom layer. BCCs are flat or bumpy patches that start as tiny red spots on the surface of your skin.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: It is a skin cancer that starts in the squamous cells. Squamous cell carcinoma looks like small, black spots on your skin that may appear scaly or crusty.
- Melanoma: It is a type of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes — cells that produce a pigment called melanin. Melanoma can start anywhere on your body, but it most commonly develops on sun-exposed areas like the face and neck or underarms.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is usually detected early by a person’s primary care doctor or dermatologist. However, some cases are not detected until it has spread beyond the area of origin. Look out for the following symptoms:
- Changes in your skin colour or texture
- New growth on your skin
- Itchiness on the sun-exposed areas of the body
- Dark and painful lesions on toes, palms, and different body parts
- Brownish large spots
- Painful moles in different body parts that cause irritation and itching
- Red and firm nodules in different body parts
- A sore on your skin that does not heal
- A lump that does not go away
- A mole on your skin that looks abnormal
Skin cancers are usually treated by removing them surgically. However, if you suspect that you have skin cancer symptoms, it is essential to visit your doctor as soon as possible to determine if it needs to be treated by surgery. The earlier it is detected, the more likely it can be removed and successfully treated with minimal side effects from radiation or other treatment options.
Note: Not all the symptoms mentioned above are signs of skin cancer. Hence it is recommended to get checked by a doctor.
How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
There are several ways to identify if you have skin cancer. One way is through a visual examination by a doctor. The doctor will take a small skin sample, remove it and examine it under a microscope for evidence of cancer cells. If present, the doctor may refer you to a specialist for further tests or treatment.
Another method for diagnosing skin cancer is through biopsy or surgery, which involves taking a small skin sample. It is sent to a pathologist who will examine it under a microscope for evidence of cancer cells. The skin specialist will determine the treatment procedure based on their findings.
What Are Skin Cancer Treatment Options?
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, you will want to know what treatment options are available. Surgery is a commonly used treatment for early-stage skin cancers. In addition to surgery and other medical procedures, doctors may offer you a combination of these treatments:
- Chemotherapy — an active drug used to kill cancer cells
- Radiation therapy — uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells
- Laser therapy (also called photodynamic therapy or PDT) — uses low-level light to destroy cancer cells
- Photocoagulation — uses laser energy to burn off damaged tissue
Skin cancer is a severe condition, and you must see a doctor immediately if you notice any signs of it. The earlier the symptoms are diagnosed, the better your chances of making a full recovery.
The Max Institute of Cancer Care is an integrated institute dedicated to providing the best treatment for your cancer. They have experts in Surgical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, and Medical Oncology who bring together advanced technology and skill to give you a holistic approach to cancer care.