An unexpected, out of ordinary growth on the skin may be diagnosed as skin cancer. Doctors advise not going out into the open when the sunlight is too harsh. While developing skin cancer is not always dependent on overexposure to the sun’s rays, it is believed to be the most typical cause of this type of cancer. You must be extremely careful and aware of the changes in your skin. The appearance of moles that grow with each passing day, along with a change in skin colorations, may be indications of skin cancer. Experts recommend visiting a doctor when you notice such changes in your skin. Remember that early diagnosis can go a long way in making the condition curable.
Areas Where Skin Cancer Occurs
- Areas that remain bare and directly exposed to sunlight. The scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, nape, arms, and legs may be affected by cancer.
- Parts of the body that are kept covered can develop skin cancer as well. Instances of skin cancer being diagnosed in the palms, soles of the feet, or the urogenital area are quite common. Cancerous growth may be detected under the finger or toenails in rare cases.
Types of Skin Cancer
Cancer of the skin is one of the commonest forms of cancer in human beings. There are three distinct types of skin cancers that are commonly diagnosed in patients affected by skin disorders.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma- This type of cancer occurs in the basal cells responsible for generating new cells to replace the dying ones. Medical research has revealed that long-standing exposure to UV rays can be directly linked to this type of cancer. Doctors recommend avoiding sun exposure during the day to reduce the possibility of basal cell cancer.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma- This variety of skin cancer is caused in the body areas that remain exposed to sunlight. Notably, it includes the back of hands, face, ears, and lip. It is not a fatal condition, but cancer may spread if left untreated. This results in several complications requiring extensive treatment.
- Melanoma- This is a relatively rare type of skin cancer that affects body parts not exposed ordinarily. You may notice signs on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, or the genital region. Fortunately, you may be able to eliminate it when it is diagnosed early.
Uncommon Skin Cancers
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma- This manifests in the form of hard nodules that you can feel just below the skin. Some of these may be shiny in appearance and present on the surface and in the follicles of hairs. The cancerous cells tend to develop on the neck, head, and torso.
- Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma- This is a sporadic type of skin cancer that involves the sebaceous or oil-producing glands of the body. You may notice several hard nodules on the skin, indicating skin issues. Sadly, most of the nodules may be found on the eyelids causing you to visit an ophthalmologist instead of a cancer specialist or oncologist.
- Kaposi Sarcoma- Parts of your skin may turn reddish or purple, affecting the appearance of your skin. This is a rare type of cancer that affects the blood vessels supplying blood to the skin. You may find the mucous membranes affected too. This cancer usually occurs in people with compromised immune systems. Patients diagnosed with HIV /AIDs and on medication to suppress immunity may be afflicted with Kaposi sarcoma as well.
Risk Factors of Skin Cancer
- Skin Color- People with fair skin containing low quantities of melanin in the body may be prone. UV radiation may damage the skin irreversibly in persons who develop freckles or burn easily when exposed to the sun.
- Sunburn – Multiple incidences of sunburn during childhood or adolescence might be a risk factor. Adults who are sunburnt easily are at risk too.
- Sun exposure- Tanning for hours by lying in the sun without application of sunscreen lotion may wreak havoc with the skin suffering extensive damage. You should avoid the use of artificial tanning beds and sun lamps to prevent skin cancer.
- Other Exposure- Apart from sun exposure, you also have a heightened risk of developing skin cancer if you have ever received radiation treatment for eczema or acne. Regular exposure to arsenic may result in skin cancer as well.
- Family History- Skin cancer may run in your family. Gather information about your family history and take adequate precautions if any one of your immediate family members has been diagnosed with skin cancer.
- Moles- Irregularly shaped moles that are bigger than ordinary ones may change shape and color with time. Such moles can turn cancerous eventually.
- Lesions- If you have rich, scaly patches on different areas of the skin, it might be time to visit a doctor. Termed as actinic keratoses, these are precancerous lesions that may become cancerous without notice.
- Weak Immune System- If you are affected with HIV/AIDs or your immune system is suppressed due to specific medication; you have an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
- Cancer Survivor- You have more risk for developing skin cancer if you have been diagnosed with it once.
Dermatologists advise consulting an experienced doctor at the earliest when you notice changes in your skin that seem to be unusual. Medical professionals also advise examining yourself closely for unusual skin changes if you have a family history of skin cancer. Proper investigative tests will help the doctor to make the right diagnosis and begin treatment immediately.