Skin cancer has been the most common type of cancer over the years with thousands of Americans being diagnosed with cancer every year. The increasing rate of growth of cancer cases is drawing a lot of attention and concerns from citizens as well as the dermatologists. Many people do not realize when they develop skin cancer while others may just ignore because most types of skin cancer are painless. However, there are other types that are very dangerous even fatal. Skin cancer, just like all other forms of cancer, develops when damaged DNA cannot be repaired leading to uncontrolled growth of the cells. When the damaged cells multiply over and over again, they develop into a tumor which in the case of skin cancer grows in the epidermis (Hicks 1).
Forms of skin cancer
Different people exposed to different conditions are less likely to develop similar skin conditions. Skin cancer exists in different form but there are the basic ones. The melanoma type is the very risky especially when it quickly spreads over the whole body after its development during which time the very vital organs can be affected or damaged. Its development starts in melanocytes hence its name. In most cases, melanoma cancer tends to develop on a pre existing spot on the skin especially the pigmented ones. It is therefore very important for people to clearly identify any changes in skin spots in order to get early treatment. White people are the most affected by this type of skin cancer because they are less likely to notice the early signs of the disease. However, it is less common. Basal cell carcinoma is the most occurring type of skin cancer in man taking the largest percentage of all cases of skin cancer in America. The best thing about this type is that, unlike the melanoma type, it rarely spreads to other body parts especially not in the internal organs but they still have the ability to do so only in very rare cases. Basal cell carcinoma mostly develops in people who are light skinned as well as those who have been exposed to the sun for a long period of time. The elderly too are at a high risk as their skin gets weak as they age as their melanin content reduces. Immune suppressed individuals are also faced with the risk of developing this form of cancer. A basal carcinoma, in most cases, appears as a small shiny protrusion which sometimes may be darker than the normal skin. Its development is very slow and if it spreads to the eyes and nose, they may lose their shape although this is a rare occurrence. A proper diagnosis is made by performing a biopsy on a sample obtained from the affected area (Fayed 1).
Treatment of a basal cell carcinoma involves the complete removal of the growth making sure to leave the smallest scar possible. However, treatment should be based on the patient’s age as well as the size and the area of the growth in order to avoid health risks that may be associated with some treatments. Many patients as well as dermatologists have been using the excision of the growth due to the fears associated with radiotherapy which exposes patients to the unpleasant radiations.Treatment methods include cutting off the tumor, radiotherapy which involves use of radiations or the freezing method where nitrogen in its liquid form is applied to the cancer to kill the cells. For those who do not want surgery, they can use applying creams which attack the cancer cells. The only problem associated with this method is the side effects of irritation mostly accompanied by inflammation. Basically, prevention of skin cancer largely depends on people themselves by taking appropriate care of their skin. Basal cell carcinoma can be prevented especially by those who are vulnerable to its development. Avoiding direct contact with the sun is the best way to prevent the development of any form of skin cancer since it has been the leading cause of skin cancer. Susceptible people as well as those who have had previous forms of cancer should always have regular check-ups both by themselves and by physicians (Doherty and Michael 112).
Squamous cell carcinoma has had lesser reports compared to the basal type. Its development occurs at the outermost layer of the human skin. However, the effect of exposure to direct sunlight as well as skin colour to skin cancer development exceeds that of basal carcinoma. For instance, women with long hair that covers some body parts are less likely to develop it than their male counterparts. Opposed to basal carcinoma, squamous carcinoma begins as a rough swelling mostly around the facial area. Development of squamous carcinoma deep into the body tissues can only occur after many years of development. Similar to basal carcinoma, exposure to the sun is a very important cause of the cancer development with most of the cancer growths occurring in locations that had previous cancer spots. These sports are known as solar keratoses and they develop as a result of long exposure to direst sun. Other factors that may contribute to the development of squamous carcinoma include: hydrocarbons, exposure to radiations and heat. Development of this type may be determined by a number of factors. Suppressed immunity, just like most of the other diseases, promotes its growth. Skin cancer may at times develop in the genital area despite the fact that it is not exposed to the sun but the normal flora of the human body such as the papillomavirus are a contributing factor. Unlike basal carcinoma, squamous forms of skin cancer can easily spread to other parts of the body especially those that have started on solar keratoses or any area that has been exposed to the sun long enough. Squamous carcinoma resulting from exposure to radiations is, however, not easily spread. Spreading of the growth may also depend on the location affected. For instance, a squamous carcinoma on the lower lip is more likely to spread to other body parts than those on other places. Regular check-ups on the lip for susceptible individuals are therefore necessary. Squamous cell carcinoma is also diagnosed by performing a biopsy test on a sample from the affected area (Schwartz 365). Cutting of the growth is still the most preferred treatment. However, any means of treating cancer should be based on its ability to completely remove/destroy the damaged cells.
Basically, prevention of skin cancer largely focuses on reducing exposure to the sun. Application of sunscreen over the exposed body regions helps protect against radiations. Protective clothing and sunglasses are equally important in preventing direct contact with sun. When the sun is extremely hot it is advisable and wise to seek some shade at least until it cools off. Obtaining the right amount of vitamin D from diet reduces the risk of developing cancer of the skin. Report all changes on the skin to a dermatologist for examination so that treatment can be started as early as possible if necessary. In order to notice the changes on the skin, it is important to learn where birthmarks and other blemishes are so as to identify a new growth (Worden 1).
Prevention and early detection of skin cancer are the main ways of combating it. Dermatologists are therefore advising people to be on the lookout for changes in skin appearance in order to get early treatment before the growth gets the chance to spread and cause damage to other body cells and tissues. Physicians are required to treat the different forms of skin cancer according to the sensitivity of the affected area. Even though skin cancer can be cured, people who have had skin cancer and got treated should maintain regular examinations because they are more susceptible to other forms of skin cancer than those who have never been affected. Above all, prevention should begin with individuals by protecting themselves from agents that promote skin cancer development such as direct sun contact and ultraviolet radiations. However, this does not mean that people should stop obtaining vitamin D from the sun because it is very essential in our bodies and there are claims that if obtained for the required period of time, vitamin D from the sun can help in preventing the development of skin cancer.
Doherty, M and Michael, W. Greenfield’s Surgery: Scientific Principles and Practice. 2005-Williams & Wilkins Fayed, Lisa. “Skin Cancer Symptoms”. 2009 – 2011. Web.
Hicks, Rob. “Skin cancer”. 2010 – 2011. Web.
Schwartz, R. Skin Cancer: Recognition and Management. 2008-Blackwell publishing. Worden, Jeni. “Skin cancer (Malignant melanoma)”. 2010 – 2011. Web.