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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells and generally develops in the areas that are exposed to the sun but sometimes it can also form in places that don’t get the exposure. There are two major categories of skin cancer:

  • Keratinocyte Carcinoma – The first category of skin cancer is basal and squamous cell skin cancer. This is the most common form of skin cancer and less likely to spread and become life-threatening. But if it is left untreated for a prolonged period of time, it can grow larger spread to the other parts
  • Melanoma – This is the second category of skin cancers. It develops from melanocytes, cells that are responsible for giving color to the skin. Some benign moles formed by melanocytes can become cancerous in nature. These moles can develop anywhere on your body but are most commonly found on the chest and back in men and on legs in women. Melanomas are more likely to spread than basal and squamous cell skin cancer

Causes and Risk Factors of Skin Cancer

  • UV Ray’s Exposure – Ultraviolet radiation that is found in the sunlight is responsible for causing damage to the DNA in skin cells
  • Fair Skin – Having less pigment or melanin in your skin provides less protection against UV radiation which puts people with fairer skin at a higher risk of developing skin cancer than people with darker skin
  • History of Sunburns – Having had one or more blistering sunburns earlier increases the risk of developing skin cancer in later years of your life
  • Radiation Exposure – People who received radiation treatment for acne or eczema may have an increased risk of skin cancer
  • Personal history of skin cancer – If you’ve developed skin cancer once, chances of developing it again are increased

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

  • Purple or red patches on the membranes of the skin
  • Firm, shiny nodules that appear on or below the skin and in hair follicles
  • Hard, painless nodules on the skin, especially on the eyelids
  • Unusual growth or changes in existing moles
  • Unusual skin growth or sores that don’t go away

Prevention of Skin Cancer

  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Avoid direct sun exposure
  • Apply sunscreen and lip balm with SPF 30 or more
  • Wear hats, sunglasses when out in the sun

Diagnosis of Skin Cancer

  • Skin Biopsy – The doctor may take a sample of skin that looks suspicious to test it further in the lab and determine if you have skin cancer and if you do, then what kind
  • Imaging Tests – In order to check if cancer has metastasized to internal organs and bones, doctors may recommend you to get tests like CT scans, X-rays, or MRIs. These procedures are painless and non-invasive
  • Blood Tests – Blood tests do not directly diagnose melanoma, but doctors look for levels of Lactate Dehydrogenase or LDH. If the levels are high, it can indicate the stage of cancer

Treatment of Skin Cancer

  • Surgery – Surgical procedures are used to treat skin cancer in which the tumor along with some tissue around it is cut from the skin or the abnormal area is shaved off the surface of the skin
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division
  • Photodynamic Therapy – This therapy uses a drug and a certain type of light to kill cancerous cells. The drug is injected into the vein and this drug collects more in cancer cells. This therapy causes little damage to the healthy tissue
  • Immunotherapy – It uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells. Substances made in labs or by the body itself are used to boost and restore the body’s immune system and use it as a defense against the cancer cells
  • Chemical Peel – In this, a chemical solution is put on the skin in order to dissolve the top layers of skin cells. It is used to improve the way skin conditions look