What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a malignant tumour that affects both men and women in their old age (after 60 years). A tumour arises from the skin epithelium, usually localized in open areas of the body. Sometimes cancer occurs from the appendages of the skin – hair follicles, sebaceous and sweat glands. Skin cancer can develop anywhere, but more often, the tumour appears on the face: the corner of the eye, wings and back of the nose, forehead are affected. Often, a tumour is detected in the armpit, on the foot, hand, lower leg.
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Types Of Skin Cancer
The most common morphological forms of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which account for about 90% of all malignant skin tumours. Melanoma is the next most common type of skin cancer affecting one out of every 56 men and one out of every 71 women in their lifetime.
Basal cell carcinoma, as the name suggests, arises from the cells of the basal layer of the skin. The tumour, as a rule, does not spread; it grows slowly. Basalioma makes up 70–75% of skin cancers, practically does not give metastases (i.e. spread to other part of the skin).
Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the surface cells of the skin, which, if not treated, can invade other organs. Basically, it metastasizes by the lymphogenous pathway to other parts of the body.
Melanoma develops on the surface of the skin cells called the melanocytes (the pigment producing cells). If not treated early it becomes deadly, spreading to other organs though the blood or lymphatics. Rarely it can also start in the nervous system, so some patients with melanoma may not have skin manifestations
Skin cancers typically manifest in different forms, though at times they can look similar so it is important to report any changes you are not sure about to your doctor. You may notice a slight bump on the skin that looks like a smooth or grainy, and sometimes waxy, growth. Often a scab forms, the build-up bleeds. A red, flat spot may appear as a scaly scab. Characteristics of a cancerous ulcer are roller-like, raised flat edges, the bottom of the ulcer is of a dirty gray colour. Sometimes a red, hard swelling occurs on the skin, usually growing slowly and without pain.
Such a tumour can appear anywhere on the body, but more often, it affects open areas – especially the neck and face. Wart-like squamous cell carcinomas are found on the lower legs, hands, and forearms.
Melanoma is usually noticed by change in color of the lesion, or by the appearance of multiple colors within the same lesion. More than 90% of the time there are no surface scaling or a rough texture with Melanoma. It is important to mention to your physician any changes to your moles including overall asymmetry, border or color changes, growth in diameter or any evolution from baseline. While most appear on a sun exposed site (particularly those that have been sun burnt before), they can occur even in non-sun exposed areas and/or in patients with skin types that don’t burn in the sun.
Diagnosing Skin Cancer
At deRMA Skin Institute, the diagnosis of skin cancer is made on the basis of a thorough examination of the suspicious tumour. The examination is carried out using a magnifying glass. The main method for recognizing skin cancer is a biopsy with excision of a sectoral piece with the capture of healthy tissue along the edge. Less often, a cytological examination of prints from a tumour or punctate from dense areas of an ulcer is performed.
Treatment Of Skin Cancer
The most commonly prescribed treatments for skin cancer are radiation therapy. Close-focus X-ray therapy is used; for common forms, it is used in combination with external radiation therapy.
In cases of low sensitivity to radiation therapy or highly advanced cancer, surgical treatment using skin grafting is used to close postoperative defects. Surgery to remove lymph nodes is performed in the presence of metastases in regional lymph nodes.
Rarely, for skin cancer, chemotherapy is resorted to with the use of special ointments, which include cytostatic drugs.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer or need a skin check, please request a consultation online or call (519) 836-8558 to schedule an appointment with one of the dermatologists at deRMA Skin Institute today.