Skin Cancer - Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Skin Cancer - Symptoms, causes and treatment
Skin Cancer - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Skin cancer is a type of cancer that grows in the skin tissue. This condition is characterized by changes in the skin, such as the appearance of lumps, patches, or moles of abnormal shape and size

Skin cancer is strongly suspected to be caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. UV rays can cause damage to cells on the skin, causing skin cancer.

Skin cancer
Skin cancer

There are three types of skin cancer that most often occur, namely:

  • Basal cell carcinoma, which is skin cancer originating from cells in the deepest part of the outermost layer of skin (epidermis).
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, which is skin cancer that originates from cells in the middle and outer part of the epidermis.
  • Melanoma, which is skin cancer originating from skin pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).

Melanoma cancer is less common than basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, but is more dangerous.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is caused by genetic changes or mutations in skin cells. The cause of the change itself is not known for certain, but it is thought to be due to excessive sun exposure.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the skin and trigger abnormal growth of skin cells. This condition has the potential to develop into cancer.

In addition, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of developing skin cancer, namely:

Internal factors

  • History of skin cancer

    A person who has had skin cancer has a high risk of getting skin cancer again. The risk of skin cancer will also increase if you have a family member with a history of skin cancer.

  • White skin

    Skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of skin color. However, fair-skinned people have less melanin, so protection against ultraviolet rays is weaker.

  • Moles

    A person who has many moles or moles with large sizes is more at risk of developing skin cancer.

  • Low immune system

    People with low immune systems are at high risk of developing skin cancer, including people with HIV/AIDS and people taking immunosuppressive drugs.

  • Solar keratosis

    Sun exposure can cause the formation of rough, scaly patches of varying color on the face or hands. This condition is called solar keratosis. Solar keratosis is a precancerous condition and has the potential to turn into cancer.

External factors

  • Sun exposure

    People who are frequently exposed to the sun, especially those who don't use sunscreen, are more at risk of developing skin cancer. This condition occurs in people who live in tropical or highland climates.

  • Radiation exposure

    Patients with atopic eczema or acne who are receiving radiation therapy (radiotherapy) are at high risk of developing skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma.

  • Exposure to chemicals

    There are many chemicals that are thought to cause cancer (carcinogenic), one of which is arsenic.

Skin Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms or signs of skin cancer generally appear on parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun, such as the scalp, face, ears, neck, arms, or legs. However, skin cancer can also occur in parts of the body that are rarely exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands, feet, or even the genital area.

The following are the symptoms of skin cancer by type:

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by soft, shiny bumps on the surface of the skin, or flat, dark or reddish-brown skin lesions that resemble flesh.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is characterized by hard red bumps on the skin, or lesions that are flat and scaly like crusts. Lesions can itch, bleed, and become crusty.

melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancer is characterized by brown patches or lumps. Melanoma does resemble ordinary moles, but they are more irregular in shape. The ABCDE method can be used to distinguish common moles from melanoma. The methods include:

  • Asymmetrical, most melanomas have an asymmetrical shape.
  • Border (periphery), melanoma edges tend to be irregular.
  • Color (color), more than one melanoma color.
  • Ddiameter, the size of the melanoma is more than 6 mm.
  • Evolution, which is a change in the shape, color, or size of the mole.

Evolution is the most important sign of melanoma.

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if there are abnormalities or changes in the skin, such as the appearance of lumps, boils, changes in skin color, moles that suddenly enlarge or change shape, and wounds on the skin that are difficult to heal. The doctor will examine and determine the cause of the changes that occur in your skin.

Please note that not all changes in the skin are caused by skin cancer. However, examination or screening for skin cancer needs to be done to detect cancer early, to prevent cancer from developing to an advanced stage.

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

In diagnosing skin cancer, the doctor will perform a skin examination to see what abnormalities occur. The examination was carried out on the shape, size, color, and texture of the skin. Through this examination, the doctor can determine whether the changes are caused by cancer or another disease.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform a skin biopsy. A biopsy is done by removing a sample of skin tissue, then it is examined in a laboratory.

If the skin disorder that occurs is due to cancer, the doctor will determine the severity or stage of the skin cancer experienced by the patient. The doctor may perform other tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or lymph node biopsy, to see if the cancer has spread.

The following are the stages of skin cancer:

  • Stage 0

    Cancer cells are still in the same place and have not spread beyond the epidermis or the outermost layer of skin.

  • Stage 1

    Cancer has spread to the skin layer below the epidermis or called the dermis, but not more than 2 cm in size.

  • Stage 2

    The cancer has not spread to other tissues, but its size has grown to more than 2 cm.

  • Stage 3

    The cancer has spread to other surrounding tissues, such as bone, and is more than 3 cm in size.

  • Stage 4

    The cancer has spread to other tissues far from the origin of the cancer, such as lymph nodes, and is more than 3 cm in size.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Treatment of skin cancer depends on the type, location and stage of skin cancer. There are several types of treatment that can be done, namely:

1. Cream for skin cancer

The method of treatment by giving cream is done to treat early-stage cancer that only attacks the top layer of the skin.

2. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is performed using liquid nitrogen to produce cold temperatures and kill cancer cells at an early stage.

3. Operation

The operation is performed by removing the cancerous tissue and the surrounding he althy skin. Surgery can also be performed by removing tumors growing in each layer of the skin and examining each layer under a microscope until there are no more cancer cells left (Mohs surgery).

4. Curettage

This treatment method is done by removing cancerous tissue using a special tool called a curette. Then, the remaining cancer cells will be burned with an electric needle (cauterization).

5. Radiotherapy

This treatment is done by exposing radiation to kill cancer cells. Radiotherapy is used when surgery cannot be performed or the cancer has spread.

6. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is done by giving drugs that are taken orally or injected to kill cancer cells.

7. Biological therapy

Biological therapy is done by giving drugs or substances that can stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells.

Skin Cancer Complications

Every skin cancer patient is at risk of getting skin cancer again. These recurring skin cancers can occur in the same area of the body or in the surrounding tissue. Skin cancer can also occur in other parts of the body. This condition occurs when cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body (metastasize).

Skin cancer can directly affect appearance, especially if it appears in areas that are not covered by clothing. This condition can trigger anxiety and depression in sufferers.

Skin Cancer Prevention

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect the skin from exposure to the sun or other sources of ultraviolet light, such as skin tanning equipment. Steps that can be taken include:

  • Avoid the sun during the day, because the strongest exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun takes place from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • Use sunscreen regularly, to prevent the absorption of ultraviolet rays into the skin and reduce the risk of sun damage.
  • Use clothing that covers the body, such as long-sleeved shirts and trousers, to protect the skin from the sun.
  • Use a hat and sunglasses when you leave the house, to give your head and eyes more protection from the sun's radiation.
  • Avoid using a tanning bed, which is a tool to darken the skin because it can emit ultraviolet radiation that is harmful to the skin.
  • Be careful when using drugs that cause side effects on the skin, such as antibiotics. To be safe, consult a doctor first.
  • Do regular skin examinations and consult a doctor immediately, if you suspect any changes or abnormalities in the skin.

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