Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world. In fact, it is the most common cancer in the United States.
What is Skin cancer?
This is the abnormal growth of skin cells which most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. They usually appear as a spot or sore; a lump; a red or dark patch; itchy, crusty, or bleeding.
They develop primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day — your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.
In celebration of the Skin cancer awareness month, we bring you the three major types of skin cancer.
1.Basal cell carcinoma
This is the most common type of skin cancer.
It usually occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your neck or face, arms but it can also appear on the chest, abdomen, and legs.
It often looks like a flesh-colored round growth, pearl-like bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.
If you’ve got fair skin, you’re more likely to get this skin cancer. People with skin of color also have this cancer.
- A small “pearly” bump that looks like a flesh-colored mole or a pimple that doesn’t go away
- Appearance of a shiny pink, red, pearly, or translucent bump
- a waxy, hard skin growth
- A bleeding or scabbing sore that heals and returns
2. Squamous cell carcinoma
It is the second most common form of skin cancer. It’s usually found on areas of the body damaged by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. Sun-exposed skin includes the head, neck, chest, upper back, ears, lips, arms, legs, and hands.
People with darker skin are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma on areas that aren’t often exposed to the sun.
It can spread to the tissues, bones, and nearby lymph nodes, where it may become hard to treat. When caught early, it’s easy to treat.
- Persistent, scaly red patches with irregular borders that may bleed easily
- Open sore that does not go away for weeks
- A raised growth with a rough surface that is indented in the middle
- A wart-like growth
This is the most dangerous because of its tendency to spread and become cancerous.
It often appears on the face and places not exposed to the sun. It may resemble a normal mole but usually has a more irregular appearance.
Melanoma often spreads to the tissue under the skin, Lymph nodes, Lungs, Liver, Brain leading to metastatic melanoma.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Hardened lumps under your skin
- Swollen or painful lymph nodes
- Trouble breathing, or a cough that doesn’t go away
- Swelling of your liver (under your lower right ribs) or loss of appetite
- Bone pain or, less often, broken bones
- Headaches, seizures, or weakness or numbness in your arms or legs
- Weight loss
In many cases metastatic melanoma can’t be cured, treatments and support can help you live longer.
Melanoma can be spotted using the ABCDE rule.
- Asymmetry—the shape of one half doesn’t match the other
- Border—edges are ragged or blurred
- Color—uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue
- Diameter—a significant change in size (greater than 6mm)
- Evolving. If a mole starts to change, or evolve, this can be a warning. Changes may involve shape, color, or elevation from the skin. Or, a mole may start to bleed, itch, or crust.
Other types of skin cancer
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Sebaceous carcinoma
How to prevent skin cancer?
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or greater thirty minutes before sun exposure and then every few hours thereafter.
Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs.