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Skin Cancer: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Skin cancer is classified as one of the most commonly occurring type of cancer in humans.  With the exception of rare cases, skin cancer originates from exposure to ultraviolet light which can cause DNA mutations that alter the cells of the epidermis. Skin cancer affects the regions of the body which have had high UV light exposure such as the face, neck, ears, nose and bald regions of the scalp. The occurrence of skin cancer is not limited to only these areas and can also occur in other regions of the body where there has been less exposure of the sun such as, the back, chest, arms and legs, though it is less common.

The skin cancer may initially emerge as rash, nodule, irregular skin growth or a persistent sore that is prone to bleeding. As the cancer progresses, shape, size and color of the mass may also vary and grow deeper into the layers of the epidermis.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer comprising of three types which can occur in various forms on the skin.

1.    Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma originates in the basal layer of the epidermis and is the most widespread cancer in humans. The many types of basal cell carcinoma include nodular type (the most common type), superficial type and the morpheaform basal cell carcinoma, which is considered to be the hardest type of basil carcinoma to treat as the tumors tend to merge with the surrounding tissue without creating a definite border.

2.    Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma results from the uncontrolled abnormal growth in the squamous cells of the epidermis. It is the second most common type of skin cancer in humans and is found to be more common among immunosuppressed individuals.

3.    Less Common Types of Skin Cancer

These types of skin cancer are less commonly observed compared to basal and squamous cell carcinoma. They include melanoma, cutaneous lymphoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and dermatofibrosarcoma.

Signs and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Translucent waxy bumps
  • Smooth, pink and pearly lumps
  • Lesions or irregular pink skin growths that may develop as a scab or are crusted in the center
  • Non-painful, flat, itchy reddish crusty patches of skin
  • Waxy yellow or white regions of the skin without a definite border

Signs and Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Scaly red patches of the skin with irregular rough borders that are prone to bleeding
  • Lumps with rough edges with sunken centers
  • Growth of wart-like structures
  • The cancer prone areas are tender to touch

Skin Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

If any of the above symptoms appear, visit the nearest skin cancer clinic or dermatology clinic. In most cases of skin cancer, the physical appearance of the skin area is enough to draw a diagnosis but a skin biopsy is performed to confirm its presence. The diagnosis is followed by a course of treatment depending upon the characteristics, size and location of the tumor along with the current health condition of the patient. Based upon these circumstances, the doctor may opt for a topical medication, radiation therapy, surgical excision, PDT, EDC or Mohs micro surgery.

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