The word ‘cancer’ can send chills down anyone’s spine. Skin cancer is common, affecting one in five people in their lifetime. However, skin cancer can be treated if diagnosed in the early stages. There are favourable chances of diagnosing skin cancer early as they develop where they can be seen.
What Is Skin Cancer?
When skin cells grow in an unorderly and uncontrolled manner, skin cancer happens. The primary cause of skin cancer is excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
There are three main kinds of skin cancer, viz
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
The first two are the most common and are referred to as non-melanoma skin cancer.
Even though not as common as basal and squamous, melanoma is the most dangerous. If not detected in the early stages, it can spread to other organs and be life-threatening.
However, most skin cancers are treatable, but you need to be vigilant and check with your health practitioner if you see any symptoms developing on your skin.
Signs of Skin Cancer
The most common warning signs of skin cancer are a change on your skin, a new growth, or a change in an existing mole/growth. Other signs differ as per the type of skin cancer. They have been discussed in detail below.
Basal cell carcinoma-
This skin cancer symptoms appear on sun-exposed areas like hands, legs, arms, face, and the bald areas of the head. It is one of the most common skin cancers found across the globe. It usually does not spread to other organs and is not life-threatening. The most common signs of this skin cancer are:
- Pearly or waxy bump around the neck, face, and ears, which is small and smooth to touch
- Flat lesions, pink or brownish, around the trunk, arms, or legs
- Scars on some regions of the skin
- Crusty sores with depression and sometimes bleeding
Squamous cell carcinoma-
Just like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is commonly seen on sun-exposed body parts like the hands, legs, face, ears, mouth, and bald areas of the head. This skin cancer can also be found in the mucous membrane and around the genitals. Common symptoms include:
- A nodule that is firm and pink in colour
- A rough, flaky lesion, that itches, bleeds, and becomes crusty
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer and can appear anywhere on the body, like the eyes, upper back, legs, and even internal organs. Since melanoma can spread to other parts of the body, it is considered the most serious.
Signs of melanoma are:
- A brown patch or bump with pigmentation
- A mole that changes in size and colour and may also bleed
The signs you should watch out for can be summed up in an ABCDE rule:
- Asymmetry- irregular shape
- Border- edges are blurry or irregular in shape
- Colour- more than one colour mole
- Diameter- bigger than 6 mm
- Evolution- enlarging and changing in colour, size, and shape
Some of the lesser known skin cancers and their symptoms:
Kaposi sarcoma- This skin cancer appears in people with weak immune systems or have immunodeficiency virus, AIDS/HIV, or those who have undergone bone marrow transplants. They might find lesions in the mouth, throat, or nose and bumpy patches on the legs, arms, and face.
Merkel cell carcinoma- It is a rare skin cancer that forms at the base of the top layer of the skin. It begins in the Merkel cells and is more likely to spread across other areas. Its symptoms include a small reddish-purplish lump on sun-exposed areas that grow very fast, sometimes becoming ulcers.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma- This appears on the eyelids and is rare cancer. The most common symptoms include round, painless lumps inside the lower or upper eyelid.
Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
Your dermatologist would follow these steps to diagnose if you have skin cancer or not.
- He may ask you about new skin growth or noticeable changes in existing moles or freckles.
- A thorough examination of your skin parts would be done, like the arms, legs, around the genitals, the palms of the hands and the soles, in between the buttocks, etc.
- If there is any suspicious skin lesion, the doctor would ask you to undergo a biopsy test. Under this procedure, a small portion of the skin is cut and sent to the lab for examination by a pathologist under a microscope.
- Once the report is out, the physician would rule out whether it is skin cancer or not, what type it is, and what is the way forward to treat the same.
Remember, skin cancer can be treated fully, provided you are careful and observant enough to detect and report it early. Get in touch with the experts at Max healthcare group for further medical information.