Knowing the signs of cancer can literally be life-saving.
But many people don’t know what skin cancer looks like and what warning signs to look out for.
Skin cancer can be treated, especially if caught early, but unfortunately thousands still die in the UK every year.
There are different forms of skin cancer, which generally fall under non-melanoma and melanoma.
Non-melanoma skin cancer, which is diagnosed a total of 147,000 times a year in the UK, kills around 720 people annually in the UK.
Melanoma is now diagnosed 16,000 times a year but is the most serious type and tends to spread throughout the body.
Experts recommend regularly examining their skin to identify possible signs of disease recurrence or the appearance of new melanomas.
What is skin cancer?
Non-melanoma skin cancer
non-melanoma Skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the top layers of the skin.
The cells in the epidermis (top layer of skin) are most vulnerable to sun damage.
In the epidermis, the most common cells are called keratinocytes.
The cells are continually shed as new ones form. However, when skin is exposed to too much sun, it causes DNA damage.
Over time this becomes a problem. This causes the cells to grow out of control, leading to cancerous growths.
melanoma skin cancer
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
Melanocytes are cells in the skin that give us the color of our skin because they produce a pigment known as melanin.
When you sit in the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment (a tan) that spreads to other skin cells to protect them from the sun’s rays.
But melanocytes are also the starting point for cancer.
Too much UV radiation causes sunburn, and this is a sign of damage to the skin’s DNA.
The UV triggers changes in the melanocytes, causing the genome to become defective and causing abnormal cell growth.
People who burn easily have a higher risk of skin cancer because their cells don’t produce as much pigment to protect their skin.
People with albinism are most at risk because their skin doesn’t produce any pigment at all.
What are the symptoms?
That the most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to look for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer, which can appear anywhere on the body.
- Looks smooth and pearly
- Looks waxy
- Looks like a solid red lump
- sometimes bleeds
- Develops a scab or crust
- Never fully heals
- is itchy
- Looks like a flat red spot and is scaly and crusty
- Develops into a painless ulcer
Around 75 percent of all skin cancers are BCCs. These usually grow slowly and almost never spread to other parts of the body.
With early treatment, this form of skin cancer usually heals completely.
As they become more aggressive, BCCs can spread into the deeper layers of the skin and into the bones—which can make treatment more difficult.
Another form of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma.
This is a cancer of the keratinocyte cells found in the outer layer of skin.
These cells are mainly found on the face, neck, bald scalp, arms, backs of hands and lower legs.
A lump on the skin can:
- Appear scaly
- Have a hard, crusty cap
- to be raised
- Be sensitive to touch
- sometimes bleed
Is Skin Cancer Itchy?
Itchy skin and/or itchy moles can be a sign of skin cancer.
A 2018 study involving 16,000 people found that people with general itching were more likely to develop cancer (including skin) than those who didn’t.
Typically, skin cancer is identified by a new or changing patch on the skin.
But in some cases, itching can be the reason for noticing the spot.
However, itching can indicate all sorts of things. So if it’s your only symptom and it doesn’t go away, see your doctor.
What are the risk factors?
- Age – The older you are, the more likely you are to develop non-melanoma skin cancer
- Previous skin cancer
- Family history of skin cancer
- sun exposure
- Certain skin conditions such as B. solar keratosis, xeroderma pigmentosum and those undergoing treatment for psoriasis or psoriasis eczema.
- Other risks include a weakened immune system or previous exposure to radiation
- Sunburn increases your chances of developing the disease. Even five sunburns can increase your risk by 80 percent.
Can the disease be treated?
Detected early, skin cancer can often be successfully treated.
The type of treatment may depend on what skin cancer it is, how far it has spread, where the cancer is and what its stage is.
The main treatment is surgery to remove it from the affected area. It is usually a minor procedure that is performed under local anesthesia.
Some may be given a skin graft depending on where the cancer is – or if it covers a larger area.
However, the types of surgery vary and depend on where the cancer is and how big it is.
If surgery is not an option, other treatments include: radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy cream.
For more information visit: CancerResearchuk.org
https://www.thesun.ie/health/2651889/skin-cancer-symptoms-signs-types/ What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer, what does melanoma look like and is it caused by sunburn?