What is skin cancer?
When malignant cancer cells form in skin tissue the disease is called skin cancer. There are many types of skin cancer that begin in the skin. There are certain factors that increase the risk of skin cancer like exposure to sunlight or skin color.
Some type of cancers that can form are an actinic keratosis, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma which first appear as skin changes. There are certain tests which can be run to determine if cancer is present, what stage, and what type. There are treatment options once you have a prognosis.
The Skin and its Layers
The largest organ in the body is the skin which contains two layers which store vitamin D, fat, and water. Skin also can regulate our temperature, and protect us from certain factors like the sun, heat, infections, and injuries. There are two main layers in our skin, the dermis which is the inner layer and the epidermis which is the outer layer.
Cancer is made up of three different cells and starts in the epidermis, which is the outer layer. The three different types of cells are basal cells, squamous cells, and melanocytes. Squamous cells are cells that are flat and thin and form on top of the epidermis. Basal cells form under the squamous cells and are round.
Melanocytes cells are made up of melanin which gives skin its natural pigment. Melanocytes begin to make more pigments when they are exposed to the sun and cause you to become darker. Areas of your body that are exposed the most to the sun have a greater risk of developing skin cancer. These areas include the neck, face, and hands.
Types of Skin Cancer
The two most common forms of cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer can form in any of the two. A skin condition that can develop into squamous cell carcinoma is called actinic keratosis.
Melanoma usually spreads to nearby tissue are other areas of the body and is less common than squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Other types of skin cancers may include mycosis fungoides, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cell carcinoma.
Risk Factors for Developing Skin Cancer
There are many risk factors that can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. It is important to remember that just because you may have risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer nor does the absence of these risk factors mean that you will not develop skin cancer. The following are some risk factors of skin cancer:
•Fair complexions and/or features
•Prolonged exposure to natural or unnatural light sources
•Family history of types of skin cancer
•Changes in genes are hereditary syndromes
•Prolonged skin inflammation
•Weak immune system
Signs of Skin Cancer
Not all changes in the skin mean that cancer is present. Always refer to your doctor or a specialist like SunDoctors mole checks, if you notice unusual changes. The following are possible signs of cancer that you should look out for:
•Sores that refuse to heal
•Changes in the skin that includes raised pearl like areas, raised red or brown areas, scaly, crusty, flaky areas, and/or white or yellow shiny wax-like areas.
•Cracking and peeling in the lip area that refuses to heal.
Ways to Treat Skin Cancer
There are many types of treatment for skin cancer and new types of treatments and clinical trials are being developed. There are many forms of therapy, as well as drug therapy, and surgery.
With the new types of treatments and clinical trials for skin cancer, the chances of survival allow you to bounce back quickly and easily.