Skin cancer, just skin discoloration or can it be distributed?
Skin cancer is often shown at exposed parts of the body like the Face, Neck, Ears, shoulders and Hands. It starts there but where does it end?
The most common reason for skin cancer is exposure to the ultra violet rays from the sun or tanning beds, But that doesn’t justify the reason why some skin cancers appear in places that are usually not exposed to the ultraviolet rays.
Good news! That skin cancer can be easily detected and treated without leaving any scars if it was detected in its early stages.
Skin cancer types:
There are two main types of skin cancers that all other types follow them and they are:Melanoma:
It is the most critical type of cancer. It can reach any part of the body, the normally exposed parts and even the unseen ones like: The throat, Middle ears and the foot sole.
Its start varies either by attacking a normal mole or form a new one, And we can distinguish between them as follow:
- Normal mole:
It is harmless and doesn’t need any attention or treatment. And here are its characteristics:
- Uniform color.
- Regular outline.
- Small size normally about 6 millimeters.
- Consistent shape as a circle or oval.
- Stable and doesn’t expand with time.
- Carcinogenic mole:
It suddenly pops up in a questionable way and it requires attention and following up with the doctor. And it has:
- Irregular outline.
- Non consistent shape as if you gathered half circle with half oval.
- Different colors or degrees of the same color.
- Larger than normal mole (exceeds 6 millimeters).
- Expands in size by time.
A weird mole shouldn’t have all these characters to be suspicious. Once it has one or two of them it needs follow up.
Under this category falls all other skin cancer types that don't involve melanin in its formation. And they are:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BSC):
Basal cells are responsible for renewing skin cells and getting rid of dead non functioning cells. But upon exposure to ultraviolet rays and destruction of its DNA it misbehaves, forming too many cells without getting rid of old ones resulting in irregular non firm skin.
The tumor spots look translucent like wax, one can hardly see small arterioles through it. And sometimes it becomes scaly and may even bleed.
Its color varies between pink in cases of white and pale people, And brown to black with dark skinned people.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC):
It forms most of the skin tissue, the outline and the middle part. When cancer attacks it, A weird spot of skin appears either with the shape of a red pimple or a grainy scar that doesn’t heal with time.
Squamous cell carcinoma can easily be treated by surgery as the surgeon eliminates the affected part completely especially if it didn’t spread and was detected early.
It is a rare condition where one of the blood or lymph vessels gets inflamed. And tumar may spread through that affected vein all over the body. That's why it is considered dangerous.
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans:
That type of cancer occurs in the connective tissue of the skin, And it is also rare.
But it is the least dangerous as it is less common to grow and it doesn’t migrate to other tissues.
- Merkel cell carcinoma:
It is also called (Neuroendocrine carcinoma) and it is described as a bluish red or deep red colored patch.
It is more common en elderly due to their weak immune system so they are in risk upon exposing to extensive sun light.
It may spread to the entire body if not detected and treated early.
Skin cancer treatment:
The treatment depends on the severity of the case, How early it was detected and of course the type of cancer itself, And the treatment plan is one way from :
Directly removing the tumor from the skin, Clearly that is limited to the local cancers that didn’t spread to other organs.
In some cases the surgeon may remove the attached lymph node too.2- Microscopic surgery:
It is a type of surgery, But it is very precise and accurate where the surgeon removes layers of the affected skin one by one and examines it under the microscope to assure full elimination of the tumor with mentaing every normal non affected skin.
It is commonly performed on critical parts like the face and hands.
The idea of that treatment is to enhance the patient’s immune system.
It may be injected to the lymph node itself during surgery in cases of melanoma that can't be fully eliminated through surgery.
Worth maintaining that it is not effective with all cases as tumors may lurk within normal cells and escape from the effect of the therapy.
Via liquid nitrogen, doctors can freeze the whole tumar and kill it to get rid of it once and for all.
But it can only be used with very small tumors or cases with procarcinogenic areas.
5- Targeted therapy:
Some drugs can target the tumor's weak points and crack it, But it should be tested against the tumor cells first to assure its effect.
It is used for metastatic melanoma that can’t be eliminated surgically.
The most common and famous treatment of cancer these days.
It may be taken orally or injected through veins or both depending on the severity of the case.
In some cases a technique called Isolated limb perfusion is used, which means that we can isolate the organ being treated through veins with chemotherapy from the rest of the body temporarily; to overcome the severe side effects known for chemotherapy.7- Radiotherapy:
A focused beam of radiation like X-rays and protons are being directed to the lymph node or the melanoma spot; to crack it and hold its metastasis.
8- Local treatment:
Specific local creams formed from the chemotherapy like (5-Fluorouracil).
Or immune enhancers like (Imiquimod) are used.
That localizes their effect and decreases the side effects known for the normal therapy.
Prevention of skin cancer:
“Prevention is better than cure” is a known statement that proves itself every time.
So here are some instructions to prevent skin cancer:
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight especially for a long time.
- Cover the exposed parts of your body as much as you can if you have to spend a long time outside.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protective fraction (SPF) at least 30%.
- Avoid tanning centers whatever techniques they are using.
- Watch over your body and pay attention to any change that happens.
In this article we talked about skin cancer and its signs, It’s causes and types. Also we discussed melanoma and the importance of it’s early diagnosis with the different treatment techniques, And how to protect yourself from having skin cancer.
- January 2022
- November 2021