What is Skin Cancer?
The skin, which is the largest organ of our body, is composed of two layers (epidermis & dermis) and various types of cells.
The epidermis (or top) layer of skin is made up of three types: flat, scaly cells at the surface, called squamous cell; round cells, called basal cells; melanocytes are cells that give skin its color and protect it from damage.
The dermis is the inner layer of skin. It contains nerves, blood vessels and sweat glands. Skin cancer refers to a condition in which cancerous cells (malignant) are found in your outer skin layers.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
If diagnosed early, most skin cancers can usually be treated. Protecting your skin from the sun is one benefit of having skin cancer detected early.
The ABCDEs for melanoma provide a useful guideline: (A. Asymmetry;(B. Borders); (C. Color; (D. Diameter;) (E. Evolution). These are the symptoms of skin cancer called melanoma.
- (A) Moles with asymmetry (asymmetry) that are distinct on one side
- (B) Irregular borders of a Mole
- (C) Color variation, including black and brown shades. This could be alarming.
- (D) The size or diameter of the mole. A doctor should examine if the mole is more than 6mm in diameter.
- (E) Lesions or moles that are distinct from the rest or change in size or shape over time are considered evolutionary (evolution).
Non-melanoma is a form of skin cancer that these signs can detect:
- Itchy, crusty patches on the skin can be very painful or may cause a complete shutdown.
- Skin spots or bumps that bleed easily or crust frequently
- These nodules result from abnormal swelling, aggregation, or swelling that does not disappear. They can be transparent, pearl-like, red, pink, white, or any combination.
- No healing of skin sores
- Scar-like bump, not due to trauma or injury
If you have any of these symptoms, immediately consult your primary care provider or an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist or otolaryngologist. Your \ Century ENT provider will examine your skin under the microscope if you notice a lump or a spot on the skin. This is called a biopsy. A biopsy is usually done in a Century ENT office. It involves numbing your skin with a local painkiller. The doctor will examine the biopsy under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous.
Causes and Types of Skin Cancer
The majority of skin cancers are found in sun-exposed skin areas. Plenty of scientific evidence supports ultraviolet radiation as a cause of all types of skin cancer. Particularly in the case of melanoma, it is essential to know your family history. Your skin color will determine your susceptibility to sun damage and skin cancer. Skin cancer is more common in those with lighter skin types.
You should always avoid sun exposure and protect the exposed areas of your body from the sun with sunblock.
There are many types of skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous Cell carcinoma are the most common. These types of skin cancer are non-melanoma. The third type is skin cancer, melanoma. Although it is less common than squamous or basal cell cancers, it can be much more severe. There are also rarer types of skin cancer.
Basal Cell Carcinoma accounts for 70% of all skin cancers. It is usually a small, raised bump with a pearly appearance. Most commonly, it is found in areas exposed to excessive sunlight. Although these cancers can spread to the skin around them, they rarely spread to other body areas.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (20% of all skin cancers). It is often found in areas overexposed to the sun (nose, lower lip, forehead, hands, and fingers). This cancer is often seen as a red bump or severe ulceration on the skin. Squamous cell carcinomas may spread to the lymph nodes.
Melanoma, a form of skin cancer (malignancy), is caused by melanocytes. This is responsible for five percent of all skin cancers. The cells that give our skin color are called melanocytes. These cancers are usually seen as pigmented (colored) skin lesions with an irregular shape, irregular border, and multiple colors. This is the most dangerous skin cancer. It can spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Melanomas are very treatable if caught early.