A COMPLETE GUIDE TO SKIN CANCER
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. But, it is also one of the most curable cancers if detected at an early stage. Prevention and regular check-ups are the best ways to get rid of skin cancer.
Melanocytes refer to the cells that produce your skin pigments, melanin. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer produced by melanocytes. However, most of skin cancers are non-melanoma, which means they do not contain melanocytes. The most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are – basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer.
Note: The melanoma skin cancer, if not treated on an early stage, can become more difficult to cure.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Human skin is made up of three types of cells –
- Keratinocytes (Skin Cells)
- Melanocytes (Pigment-producing cells)
- Langerhans Cells (The Immune Cells)
When your body starts reproducing these cells, abnormally, it increases the risk of causing skin cancer. The cells grow and divide with no control, which results in metastasizing. It means they start spreading to the other parts of your body through the lymphatic system.
Skin cancer is mostly caused due to sun exposure. The UV rays from direct sunlight or tanning beds can damage your skin’s DNA cells. The damaged DNA cells cannot control skin cell growth, which further leads to skin cancer. But there are also many risk factors associated with developing skin cancer.
Sun exposure is the primary factor of increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. Protecting your skin in the Sun, using sunscreen, hats, and goggles will help your skin to avoid sunburns and tanning. Some other risks include:
- Age: The risk of skin cancer increases as you age. But, it can also develop in young adults who spend most of their time in the Sun. Frequent sunburns during childhood can also make you more susceptible to skin cancer after the age of 50.
- Suppressed Immune: If your immune system gets weakened due to some virus, bacteria, diseases, or surgery like organ transplantation, you may be at risk of causing skin cancer.
- Gender: As per the records, men are at higher risk of developing skin cancer compared to women.
- Body Skin Tone: People with fair skin can get skin cancer faster than those with dark skin. Also, people with blond or red hair, green or blue eyes, or skin that burns easily are prone to skin cancer.
- Formation of Moles: Although most of the moles are harmless, having a large number of moles on your skin can increase the risk of developing melanoma. Individuals with dysplastic nevi (moles that look like melanoma) should immediately consult their dermatologist or cancer specialist in Pune.
- Family History: If anyone of your parents, siblings, or bloodline had been diagnosed with skin cancer, it might increase your risk too. Also, conditions like xeroderma pigmentosum; an inherited disease affects your skin’s ability to repair UV damage or cell growth, thus, causing a risk of skin cancer.
- Smoking: Smoking leads to the development of squamous cells, which further result in developing skin cancer.
- Chemical exposure: Certain chemicals such as arsenic, coal, industrial tar, and certain types of oil can increase the risk of non-melanomas skin cancer.
- UV exposure: People who stay in the Sun for a prolonged period without taking any precaution can be at risk of causing skin cancer. Also, avoid using tanning beds too frequently. The direct exposure to UV light damages your skin cells and makes it more susceptible to cancer.
- Psoriasis Treatment: People who developed psoriasis and underwent the treatment, which includes ultraviolet light treatment can create the risk of causing skin cancer.
Diagnosis and Treatment
During your first visit to Deccan Clinic, our Cancer specialist in Pune will examine your skin to determine whether it’s changing like skin cancer. If the doctor finds something suspicious about your skin, he will recommend further tests and skin biopsy.
Under this procedure, a doctor will take samples of your suspicious-looking skin and forward it for lab testing. The skin biopsy will determine whether or not you have developed skin cancer. If yes, at what stage is cancer?
Superficial skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma do not spread much. A biopsy can help remove the entire growth of it. But, if an individual is diagnosed with large squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, or Melanoma, the doctor prescribes further tests to determine at what extent has the cancer spread in the patient’s body.
Your treatment options for skin cancer can vary, depending on the size, depth, and type, and location of the tumour. Skin cancers that are limited to only up to the skin surface do not need any treatment. A skin biopsy removes the entire growth of the tumour.
In case the treatment is needed, here are your treatment options:
- Freezing: In this procedure, your doctor will destroy the actinic keratosis and some small, early skin cancer by freezing them with liquid nitrogen (also known as cryosurgery). The dead tissue sloughs off after defrosting.
- Excisional Surgery: This type of surgery is suitable for all types of skin cancer. In this procedure, your doctor cuts out the cancerous tissue and the nearby margins of healthy skin. Removing extra healthy skin around the tumour is recommended for effective and assured removal of skin cancer.
- Radiation Therapy: Using high-powered energy beams, targeted on the cancerous cells, your doctor removes the tumour by killing the cells. The radiation therapy is often recommended when cancer cannot be removed completely by surgery.
- Chemotherapy: In this procedure, your doctor will recommend some drugs to kill the cancer cells. Cancers that are limited to the skin surface are treated by lotions and creams containing anti-cancer agents. Systemic chemotherapy is performed if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
- Photodynamic Therapy: In this treatment, your cancer cells are destroyed using laser light and drugs that make cancer cells sensitive to light.
If you feel lately that your skin lesion has grown or changed, or itching, and bleeding, consult a Skin cancer specialist in Pune. At Deccan Clinic, we ensure the patients receive the best treatment but, to enhance the results, you need to be extra careful and watch for signs of skin cancer or symptoms that your body shows.
To learn more about skin cancer and what type of treatment will serve your purpose, get in touch with the country’s leading cancer surgeons in Pune.