Take the Step to Prevention Today! Know the Symptoms, Types, and Treatment of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer globally. It affects people of all ages and skin tones, but those with fair skin are more at risk than those with darker skin tones. Skin cancer develops when changes to the DNA of your skin cells lead to uncontrolled growth, which results in a tumor. There are three main types of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), and Melanoma.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer, but it is also very treatable if caught early. It often appears as a fleshy bump on the face or neck or a scaly patch. It usually grows slowly, but can spread if not treated and may require surgery.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is less common than BCC but more aggressive. These tumors look like rough patches that appear on sun-exposed sites like the face, ears, neck, and hands. They can appear anywhere on your body that gets regular exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds. SCC should be monitored regularly due to its ability to spread quickly through nearby tissues when left untreated.
- Melanoma is an often deadly form of skin cancer that begins in melanocytes, which are cells responsible for producing pigment in your skin. Melanocytes grow out of control forming malignant tumors on any part of the body – even places not exposed to sunlight such as fingernails and other areas where melanocytes can migrate from existing spots on your body through blood vessels and lymph vessels. Melanomas often look like a mole and may be slightly raised with irregular borders and/or uneven colors within them. If caught early enough surgery may be simple however advanced cases may require chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments as well as removal by surgery depending on the size or location of its presence on certain organs within the body cavity area structures etc.
It is important to note that anybody can get skin cancer. So it is essential for everyone to periodically check their entire body for spots or lesions that could indicate abnormal growths. Quickly report any unusual changes in size, color, shape, texture plus other signs like itching and bleeding directly to their physicians immediately.
What Is The Cause, Signs & Symptoms, and Treatment of Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is caused by excessive and/or prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. UV radiation damages the genetic material inside skin cells, causing mutations in DNA that can lead to cancer. This damage has long-term effects on the skin even if burning isn’t experienced after a day out in the sun without sunscreen. Additionally, other causes of skin cancer include:
- Heredity – Certain genes can make individuals more likely to develop dangerous moles and other signs of skin cancers due to a greater likelihood of UV damage;
- Impaired immune system – Reduced protective capabilities may cause people with HIV/AIDS, organ transplant recipients, and other impaired immune systems to be more at risk for developing aggressive forms of skin cancers;
- Environment– Overexposure to some toxins found in the soil and water can increase risks of developing certain types of cancers;
- Extremely fair complexions – People with fairer complexions have less natural protection from UV rays.
Signs & Symptoms
- The most common sign of skin cancer is a change in the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal. Any changes to your skin can be related to cancer, so it is important to pay attention and talk to your doctor if something doesn’t look or feel right.
- A change in the size, shape, or color of an existing mole on your skin could be a sign of skin cancer. Moles should be checked at least once each year for any changes in size, shape, color, texture, border, etc.
- An irregularly shaped lesion on the skin with ragged edges could indicate melanoma or squamous cell carcinoma. In melanoma lesions usually have an asymmetry pattern – one half does not match the other half in size or color.
- Unusual white patches (leukoplakia) on the inside of the mouth that don’t go away after a couple of weeks may mean there’s something wrong and you should consult a doctor immediately as it could be an early sign of oral cancer.
- A patchy red rash on sun-exposed areas may suggest actinic keratosis which warrants prompt medical referral from either your GP or dermatologist.
- Unexplained bleeding from existing lesions on the body warns doctors and patients alike about tumors. This is because some fungal infections do mimic behavior similar yet differ in origin providing a false alarm.
- Surgery: The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgical excision, which involves removing the cancerous tissue along with a small margin of healthy tissue. Depending on the stage and size of the tumor, doctors may use traditional tools such as scalpels and electrodesiccation, or advanced techniques such as Mohs surgery to minimize scarring.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy to kill cancer cells. You can use it alone or in combination with other treatments such as surgery. Common side effects include fatigue, redness, itchiness, and mild-to-severe sunburn-like reactions in the treated area.
- Chemotherapy: The use of drugs to kill skin cancer is known as chemotherapy. Common drugs used include topotecan, mitomycin C, dacarbazine, and biological agents like interferon alfa-2b or interleukin 2 (IL-2). Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and low blood cell count which can increase the risk of infection or bleeding.
- Cryotherapy: In some cases of small cancers an alternative is cryotherapy which involves freezing the affected area using nitrogen spray or liquid nitrogen to create an ice ball to destroy abnormal cells. This may cause blistering and scarring in that area but it can be beneficial for small lesions that you cannot remove surgically. This is due to their location on the body Erythemas regularly follow this kind of treatment and during this period precaution needs to be taken for UV exposure.
- PDT (Photodynamic Therapy): Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses special drugs such as photosensitizers which can accumulate in cancer cells. After treatment, one must take care completely of themselves. This includes protection from direct sun exposure, moisturizing, no exposure to irritants such as heat, sweat, harsh soaps, etc., making sure wounds are healing properly, etc.
- Vaccine Treatment: Vaccine treatments give promising results as part of skin cancer treatment protocols involving injectable immunotherapies that stimulate a patient’s own immune system against melanoma antigens in order to reduce the recurrence rate after initial excision.
- Targeted Therapy Treatments: Targeted therapy is another type of systemic treatment for advanced cases wherein specific monoclonal antibodies directly target specific protein molecules which act either by blocking those targets’ functionality in order to prevent its signals from reaching any other proteins downstream thus inhibiting cell growth/proliferation. Drugs such as ipilimumab Vemurafenib are available depending upon the patient’s requirement. This type of therapy also carries risks such as autoimmunity conditions as well as general adverse side effects like rashes, diarrheas, etc.
Some key risk factors for developing skin cancer include having fair skin that burns or freckles easily when exposed to sunlight; a family history of skin cancer; excessive sun exposure or a prior history of sunburns; using indoor tanning devices such as a tanning bed; freckles; moles or other marks on your skin that you’ve noticed changing sizes, colors or shapes over time; having had previous nonmelanoma skin cancers; working outdoors regularly without protection from ultraviolet light rays; and/or aging. Individuals with compromised immune systems are also prone to increased risk because they cannot protect themselves adequately against UV damage.
What is the outlook for skin cancer in India in 2023?
The number of cases of skin cancer in India may rise in 2023. According to a report published by the World Health Organization, India had 2.2 million cases of skin cancer in 2018, making it the ninth most common type of cancer in the country. The incidence and mortality rates are highest among males and females aged 70 or older. Exposure to UV radiation is one of the leading causes of rising skin cancer rates, and as temperatures continue to rise due to global climate change, this will only worsen the situation.
The increasing prevalence of skin cancer can be of the lifestyle factors such as pollution levels and unhealthy habits like smoking and sun tanning. Many individuals don’t take proper preventive measures such as wearing sunscreen or protective clothing while out in direct sunlight which contributes towards an increase in skin cancer incidents each year. Environmental changes such as increased industrialization have resulted in further air pollution which can also lead to a rise in cases of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
Additionally, There are other environmental hazards that have higher rates of UV exposure such as poor water quality caused by oil spills, agricultural runoff, sewage from heavily populated areas, etc. All these factors contribute collectively to an increased risk of developing skin cancers over time with long-term damage.
A combined effort between medical professionals, policymakers, and public authorities should set up stronger regulations regarding sun protection and other preventive measures along with setting up education campaigns at the primary school level regarding the proper use and application of sunscreen amongst others. This would go a long way towards reducing fatal complications associated with Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) related health risks longterm seen especially in closer coastal regions across India.
In what ways is the Indian government preventing skin cancer?
In India, the government is making strides to prevent skin cancer through multiple initiatives. One of these initiatives is a recent ruling by the Supreme Court of India which mandates that people will apply sunscreen before entering all public spaces such as parks and beaches, thus ensuring protection from UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Other preventive measures by the Indian government include raising awareness regarding hazardous exposure and increasing access to healthcare facilities.
Moreover, government strengthens safety protocols for workers who are in industries that use hazardous substances like asbestos and tanners. To further this effort, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has rolled out public service campaigns to educate people. They educate on the dangers of overexposure to sunlight and how one can protect oneself with hats, sunglasses, clothing covering arms and legs, and liberal application of sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher rating. Lastly, Indian states are offering free skin cancer screenings in schools so that children may receive earlier diagnosis if they need it.