Symptoms and types
The symptoms of Skin Cancer depend upon the area in which they develop. There are several Skin Cancer types depending on their location.
Merkel cell carcinoma
Skin cancer that develops mostly on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun is called Merkel cell carcinoma. The areas affected are skin, scalp, ears, neck, chest, face, lips, arms and hands, legs. However, it can also form on areas that are rarely exposed to the sun like the area beneath your fingernails or toenails, palms, and the genital area.
Basal cell carcinoma symptoms
Basal cell carcinoma is usually found on the neck and the face.
Basal cell cancer may show up as:
- A pearly or waxy bump on the skin
- A flat, brown scar- lesion which looks like a scar
- A sore which shows bleeding or scabbing. It tends to return after healing
- Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms
- Usually, the squamous cell is seen in areas that are exposed to the sun. Moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma can occur in the head and neck region.
- Squamous cell carcinoma give the following indication:-
- Presence of a firm, red nodule
- Presence of a flat lesion which has a crusted surface with scales
Melanoma can develop in any area of the body; it is mostly seen on the face or the trunk of men and lower legs in women. It can also occur on the skin not exposed to the sun.
Melanoma signs are as follows:
- A large brown spot with dark speckles
- A mole that shows the change in size, color, or feel. One that bleeds could also be a sign of Melanoma.
- A small sized lesion which has an irregular border with red, pink, white, blue or blue-black portions.
- A lesion which pains, itches or burns
- Dark lesions develop on the palms, soles, fingertips or toes. Also the lesions on the mucous membranes of the nose mouth, vagina or anus.
- Actinic keratosis lesions can also sometimes develop into skin cancer. These lesions are rough, scaly patches on the skin that develop due to chronic and prolonged exposure to the sun. It can be commonly seen on the face, lips, ears, forearms, scalp or neck and back of your hands.
squamous cell carcinoma
Skin cancer occurs when there is a mutation in the DNA of the skin cells. Due to the mutation, the cells start growing rapidly and uncontrollably to form a mass.
Cells that are affected by skin cancer
Skin cancer begins the epidermis (the skin’s top layer). It has the following three types of cells:
Squamous cells-these cells from the inner lining of the skin. Cancer in this area is known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cells exist beneath the squamous cells. These perform the function of producing new skin cells.
Melanocytes —these cells produce melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin. Usually located in the lower part of the epidermis, melanocytes produce more melanin when there is increased sun exposure.
The treatment options depend on the site where the skin cancer began.
Ultraviolet light and other potential causes
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight can damage the DNA in skin cells. This effect is also possible with UV light used in tanning beds. Factors such as exposure to toxic substances or having a weak immune system also influences your chances of getting cancer.
Tests and Diagnosis
Diagnosing skin cancer
Moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma
Visual examination is the key to the diagnosis of skin cancer. A physical examination of the spot under suspicion and analysis of the size, shape, and color can help determine its true nature. The doctor will also examine if there is any bleeding or scaling. Skin Cancer hospitals provide all the diagnostic facilities for skin cancer. Best Skin Cancer doctors recommend the following tests-
A dermatologist may view the area with a special microscope or magnifying lens. This process is called dermatoscopy.
A biopsy involves the removal of partial or whole growth. The extracted mass is then sent for further examination. The best treatment for Skin Cancer begins with this step.
Tests such as CT scans, X-ray and MRI are used in this category.
Treatment for skin cancer
There are several methods for Skin Cancer Treatment. The method depends on the general health of the patient, the location and size of the tumor, and the microscopic characteristics of cancer. Skin Cancer Treatment Cost varies from clinic to clinic. Following methods are used for squamous cell carcinoma treatment as well as treatment of other types of skin cancer-
Topical medications: If it is a case superficial basal cell carcinoma, then creams, gels and solutions like imiquimod may be used. It stimulates the body’s immune system to produce interferon which attacks cancer. Best dr for Skin Cancer recommend this method if the cancer is superficial.
Destruction by electrodesiccation and curettage (EDC): This process involves numbing the tumor area with a local anesthetic and scraping the tumor with a curette, along with cauterizing it with an electric needle.
Surgical excision: This process involves numbing the area with a local anesthetic followed by the surgical removal of the tumor and closing the area with sutures.
Mohs micrographic surgery: After anesthetizing the area, the surgeon removes the visible tumor leaving a small margin of normal tissue. It is followed by an immediate evaluation of the tumor under a microscope. The areas having residual microscopic tumours are re-excised followed by re-examination of the tissues. The cycle is repeated until no tumor can be seen. Mohs surgery is a highly recommended procedure.
Radiation Therapy: A high dose of radiation is delivered to the tumor and the small surrounding skin in 10-15 sessions. It is an option best suited to people who cannot undergo a surgical procedure.
Other types of treatments -cryosurgery (destruction of tissue by freezing, photodynamic therapy (medication and blue light destroy the cancerous tissue), laser surgery (vaporization of the skin’s top layer), and oral medications are included in this category.
Basal cell carcinoma stages
Following are basal cell carcinoma stages –
Stage 0 : is the stage when the cancer is present only in the epidermis and has not spread deeper.
Stage I: cancer measures less than 2 centimetres, and has not spread to the neighboring lymph nodes or organs.
Stage II: cancer measures larger than 2 centimetres across, and has not spread to neighboring organs or lymph nodes.
Stage III: cancer has spread into either the facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but has not spread to other organs.
Stage IV : The cancer is of any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes larger than 3 cm. It also includes cancer that may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.