Skin cancer begins in cells, the building blocks that make up the skin. Normally, skin cells grow and divide to form new cells. It is when this normal level of cell growth becomes abnormal and comes to be referred to as cancer.
Skin being the largest organ of our body is not usually given as much importance as it should be. To echo its important, it should be noted that they cover the entire body, protect it from injuries, regulate body’s temperature and prevent dehydration.
Skin, like other tissues in the body, is compiled of cells in two layers called the epidermis and dermis. When these cells grow in large numbers i.e. grow abnormally, they bulge out of their designated places and take the form of malignant tumours.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are different types of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Other rare types of skin cancer include those that start in the hair follicles and sweat glands.
Basal cell carcinoma: of the total number of non-melanoma cancers, 70 per cent are basal cell carcinoma. Some of the characteristics of the disease include the following:
• It usually develops on the neck, head and upper body.
• The tumours may appear in the form of a scaly or dry area on the skin that is either pale or bright pink in colour or a pearly lump.
• This type of tumour may bleed and with time swell up, damaging the tissues nearby. Treating this type of BCC can become really difficult and can also increase the chances of recurring.
Basal cell carcinoma does not usually have any symptoms because they tend to grow at a slow pace and end up spreading to different parts of the body. The earlier BCC is diagnosed the easier it will be for someone to get treatment. If BCC is left untreated, it can grow larger than 5 c and grow deeper into the skin so much to damage tissues nearby.
Squamous cell carcinoma: this type of skin cancer accounts for at least 30 percent of the total number of non-melanoma cancers. This type of cancer is characteristic of the following:
• It usually appears on different parts of the body, especially those that are excessively exposed to the sun like the neck, head, forearms, lower legs and hands.
• It may look like a sore that has not healed ever since it developed.
• It is thickened, red scaly area of the skin.
• An SCC would be tender to touch.
Melanoma: this is the most rarely occurring type of skin cancer that is also the most serious. The characteristics of this type of cancer include the following.
• It has an irregular surface or edge and may also be of more than just one colour like red, black, brown, light grey and white.
• It will appear as a new or existing spot that changes with size, colour or shape.
Whether it is BCC, SCC or melanoma cancer, seeking treatment at a later stage can pose several threats to the patient. After a certain stage of cancer, treating it to complete cure becomes impossible.
Read more articles on Skin Cancer.
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