Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that occurs in the adult population. Changes in the skin or in the shape and color of moles on the skin’s surface should be brought to the attention of a health professional. Some types of skin cancer are relatively minor. However, one type can be deadly and should receive treatment in the early stages to prevent serious consequences.
Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is generally divided into three types. Basal cell cancer is caused by exposure to the sun. It produces shiny bumps, a dark-colored lesion on the skin, or a scaly patch with raised edges. Sometimes, it looks like a waxy, scar-like lesion. Squamous skin cancer may look like an open sore that doesn’t heal, a growth like a wart, or a horn-like growth coming out of the skin. Melanoma can cause changes in existing moles or can be on clear skin. Melanoma often contains shades of brown, black, or tan, but some can be red or pink, such as the one shown here. Any growth that appears asymmetrical or appears to be a change in color should be investigated. Melanoma is the most serious form of cancer, because it can metastasize into other body tissues and, if left untreated, can lead to death. Unfortunately, deadly cancer can become life-threatening within six weeks. That being said, some skin cancer can grow for years without even being noticed. This means that if you do start to notice anything unusual, you should consult a doctor immediately. Common warning signs include redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Sometimes the color spreads from the border of a spot into the surrounding skin. Additionally, itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn't go away or goes away then comes back may be a sign of skin cancer. Oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump around the moles can also be an indication that you have skin cancer.
Who Is At Risk For Skin Cancer?
If you spend a great deal of time outdoors, exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, you are at increased risk for skin cancer. If you have a family history of skin cancer, your risk is increased. If you have had bad sunburns in the past, it could increase your risk for skin cancer. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why so many doctors recommend that you wear some sort of sunscreen daily. Additionally, it is common for skincare products and makeup to contain SPF to help with this. Individuals who have a large number of moles are more at risk. Blondes, redheads, and those with blue or green eyes are more at risk for developing skin cancer. Typically, anyone that is at a higher risk of sunburns may be at a higher risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is more likely to start on the chest and back in men and on the legs in women. The neck and face are other common sites, especially the nose.
Skin Cancer Treatments
Taking a sample of tissue and looking at it under the microscope helps your doctor to diagnose the type of cancer and determine the right treatment. A number of skin cancer treatments are available, depending on the type of cancer and the extent of its growth into tissues. Freezing, cutting cancer out of layers of tissue with the Mohs technique, desiccation, scraping the abnormal cells out of the tissue, radiation to kill the abnormal cells, light therapy and chemotherapy may be used to eliminate the cancerous cells. Typically, the skin isn’t replaced with a graft, however, there may be cases reshaping of the area results in a lower likelihood of it being noticeable. Things like nose jobs, for example, are common for those who have had some of their nose removed due to skin cancer.
Skin Changes Should Never Be Ignored
Personal regular checkups of your skin can help you to avoid serious cancers that can be deadly. If you notice unusual skin changes, consult a physician who can provide an accurate diagnosis and administer appropriate skin cancer treatments that can prevent further problems and could even save your life.