Skin Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Skin
The skin is the bodys largest organ. It protects against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. Skin also helps control body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis and the dermis . Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells:
- Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
- Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
- Melanocytes: Cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to darken.
Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it is most common in skin that is often exposed to sunlight, such as the face, neck, and hands.
Tips For Screening Moles For Cancer
Examine your skin on a regular basis. A common location for melanoma in men is on the back, and in women, the lower leg. But check your entire body for moles or suspicious spots once a month. Start at your head and work your way down. Check the “hidden” areas: between fingers and toes, the groin, soles of the feet, the backs of the knees. Check your scalp and neck for moles. Use a handheld mirror or ask a family member to help you look at these areas. Be especially suspicious of a new mole. Take a photo of moles and date it to help you monitor them for change. Pay special attention to moles if you’re a teen, pregnant, or going through menopause, times when your hormones may be surging.
Skin Cancer In Children Symptoms
Skin cancers generally appear as a lump or nodule, an ulcer, or a changing lesion.
Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. The symptoms can include:
- A small, raised bump that is shiny or pearly, and may have small blood vessels
- A small, flat spot that is scaly, irregularly shaped, and pale, pink, or red
- A spot that bleeds easily, then heals and appears to go away, then bleeds again in a few weeks
- A growth with raised edges, a lower area in the center, and brown, blue, or black areas
Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, neck, arms, and hands. They can also appear on other parts of the body, such as skin in the genital area. The symptoms can include:
- A rough or scaly bump that grows quickly
- A wart-like growth that may bleed or crust over.
- Flat, red patches on the skin that are irregularly shaped, and may or may not bleed
Symptoms of melanoma include a change in a mole, or a new mole that has ABCDE traits such as:
Other symptoms of melanoma can include a mole that:
- Itches or hurts
- Looks different from your childs other moles.
Read Also: Can Skin Cancer Be Cured With Cream
Certain Factors Affect Prognosis And Treatment Options
The prognosis for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin depends mostly on the following:
- Stage of the cancer.
- Whether the patient is immunosuppressed.
- Whether the patient uses tobacco.
- The patient’s general health.
Treatment options for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin depend on the following:
- The type of cancer.
- The stage of the cancer, for squamous cell carcinoma.
- The size of the tumor and what part of the body it affects.
- The patients general health.
How Do You Know If A Spot Is Skin Cancer
You can also read our guide on how to check your skin regularly, if you want to learn more about how to form a skin checking routine for yourself.
Don’t Miss: Is Renal Cell Carcinoma Hereditary
Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
SCC is generally faster growing than basal cell cancers. About 20 out of every 100;skin cancers are SCCs. They begin in cells called keratinocytes, which are found in the epidermis.
Most SCCs develop on areas of skin exposed to the sun. These areas include parts of the head, neck, and on the back of your hands and forearms. They can also develop on scars, areas of skin that have been burnt in the past, or that have been ulcerated for a long time.
SCCs don’t;often spread. If they do, it’s;most often to the deeper layers of the skin. They;can spread to nearby;lymph nodes;and other parts of the body, but this is unusual.
Knowledge Is Your Best Defense
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. These mutations lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma .
The two main causes of skin cancer are the suns harmful ultraviolet rays and the use of UV tanning beds. The good news is that if skin cancer is caught early, your dermatologist can treat it with little or no scarring and high odds of eliminating it entirely. Often, the doctor may even detect the growth at a precancerous stage, before it has become a full-blown skin cancer or penetrated below the surface of the skin.
Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Pictures
Basal cell carcinoma usually appears in areas of the skin previously exposed to high levels of UV radiation such as the head, neck, ears and the back of the arms and hands. It is common in exposed skin of outdoor workers or people who have used sun tanning beds in the past.
As the basal cell carcinoma pictures below indicate, this type of skin cancer usually shows as a fleshy coloured bump that does not disappear over time and tends to grow slowly in size, eventually breaking down and ulcerating.
Below are pictures of skin cancer on the neck, face and trunk;. These images show common areas where;basal cell carcinoma;develops, but it can develop anywhere.
Basal cell carcinoma.;The skin cancer pictures in this article were licensed from DermNet NZ
Precancerous Conditions Of The Skin
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous condition of the skin. Precancerous conditions of the skin are changes to the skin cells that make them more likely to develop into cancer. Actinic keratosis is not yet cancer. But if it isnt treated, it may develop into a type of non-melanoma skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Actinic keratosis is also called solar keratosis.
Actinic keratosis most often develops on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, bald scalp, arms and backs of hands.
Also Check: How Aggressive Is Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Causes Of Skin Cancer
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, though the risk increases as you get older.
The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.
Some factors that increase your risk of skin cancer include:
Recurrent Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. These cancers develop within the basal cell layer of the skin, in the lowest part of the epidermis.
Patients who have had basal cell carcinoma once have an increased risk of developing a recurrent;basal cell cancer. Basal cell cancers may recur in the same location that the original cancer was found or elsewhere in the body. As many as 50 percent of cancer patients are estimated to experience basal cell carcinoma recurrence within five years of the first diagnosis.
Basal cell carcinomas typically grow slowly, and it is rare for them to metastasize or spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. But early detection and treatment are important.
After completing treatment for basal cell carcinoma, it is important to perform regular self-examinations of the skin to look for new symptoms, such as unusual growths or changes in the size, shape or color of an existing spot. Skin cancers typically develop in areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, but they may also develop in areas with no sun exposure. Tell your oncologist or dermatologist about any new symptoms or suspicious changes you may have noticed.
- Have a history of eczema or dry skin
- Have been exposed to high doses of UV light;
- Had original carcinomas several layers deep in the skin
- Had original carcinomas larger than 2 centimeters
You May Like: Are There Stages Of Basal Cell Carcinoma
Living With Skin Cancer In Kids
If your child has skin cancer, you can help him or her during treatment in these ways:
- Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help.
- Your child may be very tired. He or she will need to learn to balance rest and activity.
- Get emotional support for your child. Counselors and support groups can help.
- Keep all follow-up appointments.
- Keep your child out of the sun.
After treatment, check your childs skin every month or as often as advised.
Who Gets Skin Cancer And Why
Sun exposure is the biggest cause of skin cancer. But it doesn’t explain skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Exposure to environmental hazards, radiation treatment, and even heredity may play a role. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have:
- Fair skin or light-colored eyes
- An abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of excessive sun exposure or blistering sunburns
- Lived at high altitudes or with year-round sunshine
- Received radiation treatments
Causes And Risk Factors
Researchers do not know why certain cells become cancerous. However, they have identified some risk factors for skin cancer.
The most important risk factor for melanoma is exposure to UV rays. These damage the skin cellsâ DNA, which controls how the cells grow, divide, and stay alive.
Most UV rays come from sunlight, but they also come from tanning beds.
Some other risk factors for skin cancer include:
- A lot of moles: A person with more than 100 moles is more likely to develop melanoma.
- Fair skin, light hair, and freckles: The risk of developing melanoma is higher among people with fair skin. Those who burn easily have an increased risk.
- Family history:Around 10% of people with the condition have a family history of it.
- Personal history: Melanoma is likelier to form in a person who has already had it. People who have had basal cell or squamous cell cancers also have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
The best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to limit oneâs exposure to UV rays. A person can do this by using sunscreen, seeking shade, and covering up when outdoors.
People should also avoid tanning beds and sunlamps to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
It can be easy to mistake benign growths for skin cancer.
The following skin conditions have similar symptoms to skin cancer:
What Causes Skin Cancer In Kids
The common forms of skin cancer listed above are related to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds or lamps and the effects of ageing. Skin cancer is more common in people with light skin, light-colored eyes, and blond or red hair.
Other risk factors include:
- Human papillomavirus infection , particularly for mucosal sites such as oral mucosa, lips and genitals
- Immune suppression, for example in patients who have received an organ transplant and are on azathioprine and ciclosporin
- Human immunodeficiency virus infection
- Exposure to ionizing radiation or radiation therapy in the past
- Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic and coal tar
- Longstanding skin diseases such as lichen sclerosus, lupus erythematosus, linear porokeratosis or cutaneous tuberculosis
- A longstanding wound or scar, for example, from a thermal burn .
You May Like: What Is Melanoma In The Brain
What Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin
Squamous cells are found throughout the human body. These cells line organs, such as the lungs, throat, and thyroid. We also have squamous cells in our skin.
The job of squamous cells is to protect what lies beneath. In our skin, these cells sit near the surface, protecting the tissue beneath.
Anywhere we have squamous cells, we can develop a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma .
In the skin, this cancer is usually not life-threatening. It tends to grow slowly, but it can grow deep. When the cancer grows deep, it can injure nerves, blood vessels, and anything else in its path. As the cancer cells pile up, a large tumor can form.
Most people who develop this skin cancer have fair skin that they seldom protected with sunscreen or sun-protective clothing. Before developing this skin cancer, they tend to notice signs of sun damage on their skin, such as age spots, patches of discolored skin, and deep wrinkles.
Anyone can develop squamous cell carcinoma
While anyone can develop this skin cancer, you have a greater risk if you live with a transplanted organ, use tanning beds, or have fair skin that you seldom protected from the sun.
Another sign of sun-damaged skin is having one or more pre-cancerous growths on your skin called actinic keratoses . Some AKs progress, turning into squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
To find out what this skin cancer can look like and see pictures of it, go to: Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: Signs and symptoms.
Skin Cancer Support Groups And Counseling
Living with skin cancer presents many new challenges for you and for your family and friends. You will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect you and your ability to “live a normal life,” that is, to care for your family and home, to hold your job, and to continue the friendships and activities you enjoy.
Many people with a skin cancer diagnosis feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated. For most people with skin cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps. Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don’t wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know.
Some people don’t want to “burden” their loved ones, or prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful. Your dermatologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.
Many people with cancer are profoundly helped by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for people with cancer may be available through the medical center where you are receiving your treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups throughout the U.S.
You May Like: How To Treat Melanoma In Nails
Have A Skin Cancer Screening
Early intervention and treatment is crucial in skin cancer cases. A yearly skin cancer screening with a dermatologist is the best way to detect skin cancer early, since dermatologists are trained to recognize the earliest warning signs.
If a suspicious growth or lesion is found during your screening, it will be biopsied to test for signs of cancer. If the biopsy comes back negative, no follow-up is necessary. If the biopsy comes back positive, your dermatologist will explain your treatment options and help you develop a clear plan for addressing the cancer.
Skin Cancer Pictures: What Does Skin Cancer Look Like
Skin cancer images by skin cancer type. Skin cancer can look different than the photos below.
Skin cancer often presents itself as a change in the skins appearance. This could be the appearance of a new mole or other mark on the skin or a change in an existing mole.
Please remember that you should always seek advice from your doctor if you have any concern about your skin. Skin cancers often look different from skin cancer images found online.
You May Like: What Are The 4 Types Of Melanoma
What Are Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are the most common types of skin cancer. They start in the top layer of skin , and are often related to sun exposure.
Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer cells. To learn more about cancer and how it starts and spreads, see What Is Cancer?
What Are The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
The most common risk factors for skin cancer are as follows.
- Ultraviolet light exposure, either from the sun or from tanning beds. Fair-skinned individuals, with hazel or blue eyes, and people with blond or red hair are particularly vulnerable. The problem is worse in areas of high elevation or near the equator where sunlight exposure is more intense.
- A chronically suppressed immune system from underlying diseases such as HIV/AIDS infection or cancer, or from some medications such as prednisone or chemotherapy
- Exposure to ionizing radiation or chemicals known to predispose to cancer such as arsenic
- Certain types of sexually acquired wart virus infections
- People who have a history of one skin cancer have a 20% chance of developing second skin cancer in the next two years.
- Elderly patients have more skin cancers.
Most basal cell carcinomas have few if any symptoms. Squamous cell carcinomas may be painful. Both forms of skin cancer may appear as a sore that bleeds, oozes, crusts, or otherwise will not heal. They begin as a slowly growing bump on the skin that may bleed after minor trauma. Both kinds of skin cancers may have raised edges and central ulceration.
Signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinomas include:
Signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinomas include:
- Persistent, scaly red patches with irregular borders that may bleed easily
- Open sore that does not go away for weeks
- A raised growth with a rough surface that is indented in the middle
- A wart-like growth
Recommended Reading: How To Protect Your Self From Skin Cancer