Detect skin cancer early so you can treat it efficiently by reading our guide on what you need to know about skin cancer symptoms.
As compared to other cancers, skin cancer is easier to detect because the first signs and symptoms of the disease are visible on the surface of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and helps to protect the insides of the body from damage, regulates body waste products in the form of perspiration, and maintains an optimal body temperature. Made of two layers, the skin’s upper layer is called the epidermis, while the inner layer is called the dermis. Depending on the part of the body that is covered by skin, the thickness of the epidermis and dermis varies from 2mm to 4mm. For example, the skin on the back is the thickest (4mm) while the skin on the face is the thinnest. Before learning what you need to know about skin cancer symptoms, you should be aware that the most common cause of skin cancer is sun damage.
The skin is made of a number of different cells. The most common of these is the keratinocyte. There are two types of keratinocytes – basal cells and squamous cells. Basal cells are the keratinocytes that are located at the bottom of the epidermis layer. These are the cells that create all the other cells on the surface of the skin. What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer Symptoms is that basal cell skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. The topmost layers of the skin are made of dead basal cells that become filled with keratin. This tough waxy substance is made by the keratinocytes, and serves to make the skin strong enough to deal with all the external impacts and protect the body. Cancer in these keratinocytes is called squamous cell skin cancer.
Under these two layers of the cell, the melanin-producing melanocytes are found. These melanocytes are located in the deepest layers of the epidermis, and produce the brownish pigment melanin whenever the skin is exposed to the rays of the sun. Melanin serves a protective function against the harmful rays of the sun. The melanocytes produce lesser amounts of melanin in a fair-skinned person, as compared to those with darker colored skin. In effect, those with darker skin are actually better protected against skin cancer. Cancer of the melanocytes is called melanoma skin cancer.
Most skin cancers take a long time to grow and develop, however, there are some types of skin cancer that grow extremely quickly within the span of a few months, so it’s important you understand what you need to know about skin cancer symptoms.
Basal cell skin cancer generally affects the areas of skin that receive maximum exposure to the sun. For example, the face, neck, hands, scalp, and arms are usually the first areas to show signs of skin cancer. However, there have been many cases wherein basal cell carcinomas have first been noticed in protected areas such as the genital area. What you need to know about skin cancer symptoms of basal cell carcinomas (BCC) is that they include:
BCC is a slow growing cancer that often takes years to develop fully. As the cancer worsens, these skin anomalies may begin to bleed easily or ooze and form a crust.
While the basal cell carcinomas have a smooth and pearlescent appearance, squamous cell skin cancer may manifest in the form of firm lumps on the skin that are rough to touch. Generally found in areas like the head, neck, arms, and hands, SCC may also appear inside the mouth, on the genitals, on ears, on the lip, etc. While the common cause of SCC is sun damage, this type of skin cancer can also be caused due to x-ray radiation, bad burns, exposure to strong chemicals, etc. SCC grows inwards, and if left untreated, chances are high that the cancer will migrate to other parts of the body. It is needless to say that this is a dangerous proposition.
Here is what you need to know about skin cancer symptoms for squamous cell skin cancer, so you know what you should watch out for:
If you’re wondering what is melanoma cancer, then you should first learn that melanomas masquerade as moles on your skin. If you suddenly see a mole that you were sure you didn’t have before, it is a good idea to get it checked. Similarly, if an existing mole changes in shape, size or color, speak to your physician. A regular mole is generally uniformly brown, tan or black in color. It may be flat or raised, round or oval, and is normally less than 6mm across. Moles are usually present at birth, or develop when you are a child or young adult. Any moles that develop after this time or change drastically may be the sign of a developing melanoma skin cancer.
How do you tell the difference between a normal mole and a sign of melanoma? Use the ABCDE rule.
Now that you know what is melanoma cancer, if your mole exhibits any of these features, it is important to tell your doctor immediately so they can give you treatment for melanoma if necessary.
Other warning signs to watch out for are:
Even doctors might find it difficult to differentiate a regular mole from a melanoma. However, it is important to show your doctor any mole that fits these descriptions and is making you concerned just in case you require melanoma treatment.
There are different levels of melanoma staging which determine the severity of the cancer and the type of melanoma treatment you require.
Melanoma staging and staging for any other type of skin cancer requires different types of treatment for skin cancer. Your doctor will consult you on the right treatment for skin cancer and provide you with the necessary treatment depending on which type you have such as treatment for melanoma or treatment for basal cell carcinoma.
The key to efficient treatment skin cancer is early detection. Regularly examine your skin for any new or unusual patches, changes in moles, etc. If you do find anything suspect, take the matter to your dermatologist or your physician. While most skin cancers develop on areas of skin that are exposed to the sun, this may not always be the case. Now that you understand what you need to know about skin cancer symptoms, check for signs and symptoms of skin cancers in areas such as the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, between the toes, underneath your nails, genital area, as well as the eyes.
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