Skin cancer is a mutation in human skin cells, which causes them to grow abnormally. The sooner it gets detected, the easier it would be to tackle. Furthermore, it implies that the later stages of cancer are often fatal. There exist some variants of the disease, which possess the property of metastasis, i.e., they can spread to other healthy tissues of the body.
Types of Skin Cancer:
Skin cancer is categorised in two broad categories – Melanoma and Non-Melanoma. Melanoma derives its name from the cells it attacks, Melanocytes, the skin cells that are responsible for pigmentation. Non-melanoma is often confined to the surface layers of skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC):-
The first layer of skin consists of squamous cells, and that’s where SCC gets its name from. People who remain exposed to sunlight for long are most prone to SCC. Moreover, it possesses the property of metastasis, and therefore, it evades other healthy tissues of the body.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC):-
The second layer in the skin profile consists of basal cells, and the variant of cancer that most likely affects them is called BCC. Though this cancer doesn’t spread, it is still lethal for the infected.
Less than 1% of the total population suffering from skin cancer gets diagnosed with this type. This is the most fatal of them all, and the older it gets in a patient’s system, the harder it is to treat! There are five stages of Melanoma. Its lower stages can be cured easily, whereas the higher stages are lethal and dangerous.
Stages of Skin Cancer:
At Stage 0, the quantity of infected cells is almost negligible, and there is probably no cancer, but only a few abnormal cells. These cells might still grow cancerous, and therefore, they need to be treated. These cells are called carcinoma in situ.
At Stage I, cancer has yet not spread to different parts of the skin and it exists in only one layer. In other words, it is still small. Moreover, it is also known as early-stage cancer, and proper treatment at this stage would mean very little chances of cancer relapse.
Stages II and III are a matter of concern. These stages indicate that cancer has become bigger and has clawed other healthy tissues of the body.
Stage IV is the most dangerous and the last stage of cancer. Doctors call it advanced cancer, and it often ends up with fatal results. Thus, it is imperative for the well-being of a patient that they consult the right doctor, such as the ones at SunDoctors.
Symptoms of skin cancer
A crusty or scaly lesion is one of the most prominent symptoms of actinic keratosis. The tiny lesions are so small that they remain hidden from naked eyes until cancer doesn’t spread. BCC starts as a little sore or a red patch or a shiny bump, accompanied by severe itching. SCC too starts as a coarse red patch, however, SCC lesions may bleed severely.
Melanoma’s symptoms can be explained using the ABCDE acronym.
A for Asymmetrical when divided into two halves,
B for Borders that aren’t well-defined
C for Change in color from red to darker, and eventually blue or black.
D for the Diameter being 6mm or above, and lastly,
E for Evolution, since the abnormality evolves.
If you have a mole on your skin that fits the ABCDE acronym, it may be Melanoma. On better inspection by a doctor, you could be clear on the way ahead.
Care for Skin Cancer & Side-effects of its Treatments:
Prevention is always better than cure, and for cancer, there is no cure yet! Thus, you should best keep yourself protected against any harmful radiation, the main cause of skin cancer.
However, once diagnosed, skin cancer can be treated using one of the following methods:
Cryosurgery:- Simple Cryosurgery includes freezing off the cancerous cells by using Liquid nitrogen. Its common side effects are Bleeding, Edema, Pain, Headache (after treatment of facial lesions), Syncope, etc.
Photodynamic therapy:- It is a non-invasive treatment method, and uses a photosensitizer drug to weaken the cancer cells against the stimulus of light, then a high-power laser is targeted at those cells, thus, killing them. However, much like other therapies on the list, this too has its own share of disadvantages. Photodynamic treatment could lead to pain in the operated area, extra-sensitivity towards light, swelling, red scales on the skin.
Radiation therapy:- Used to cure the initial stages of basal cell cancers, it employs high-power radiation to kill off the cancer cells. However, patients often complain of fatigue, irritated skin, and nausea. Not to forget, the harmful radiation isn’t just harmful to the cancerous cells, but for the otherwise healthy organs too!
Mohs surgery:- Used to operate most cancer types, it includes the gradual removal of thin layers of skin possessing infected cells. Basic side effects include bleeding, pain, tenderness around the removed tissue and possibilities of infection.
Chemotherapy:- One of the most common ways of handling cancer, chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill the fast-growing cells. The side effects of this therapy include fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, and hair loss.
Biological therapy:- Immunotherapy, or as we mentioned Biological therapy, is an astounding technique to cure skin cancer, utilizing the immunity of the body. The common side effects include chills, nausea, muscle aches, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea.