Skin cancer

image of skin with malignant formation

Skin cancer is one of the most common in human pathology, and its incidence continues to increase over the last decade. It represents an improper growth of skin cells most commonly exposed to sunlight. There are different types of skin cancer, but the three most common are:

 Basal cell carcinoma

– Squamous cell carcinoma

– Melanoma

What are the risk factors for the development of skin cancer?

environmental factors –  sunlight is one of the main causes due to damage to cells’ DNA. Severe sunburn in childhood, the use of solarium and excessive exposure to UV radiation significantly increase the risk of melanoma in both the exposed and the covered parts of the body.
genetic predisposition – personal and/or family history of skin cancer in the family
light skin, light hair and eyes – in people with lighter complexion, the skin has less melanin pigment, which is responsible for the protection from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, and so the risk of developing skin cancer is up to 30 times higher
the presence of a large number of moles –  people with more than 50 standard moles are more likely to develop melanoma due to a higher association with these genetic mutations.

What is basal cell carcinoma?

It is also called non-melanoma cancer, and it accounts for over 80% of cases. Some of the signs of this type of cancer are:
• most often develops in the neck or head area;
• whitish or pink-coloured tumours in areas with drier and scaly skin
• in some cases they may bleed and the surrounding tissues may be damaged

Patients with basal cell carcinoma have no complaints because their growth is very slow. The earlier diagnosis, the better the results of the applied surgical treatment are.

What is squamous cell carcinoma?

This type of cancer accounts for 30% of cases of non-melanoma skin cancer. The characteristics of this type of cancer are:
• may appear on different body parts that are exposed to direct sunlight
• it may look like a sore that does not heal for a long time
• there may be pain when pressure is applied in the area where the cancer has developed

What is melanoma?

This is the rarest form of skin cancer, which is also the most severe and with worst prognosis. Its features are:
– occurs as a symptomless flat or raised pigment spot on the skin or in the form of a nodule similar to the ordinary moles
– the color of the melanoma may be different: black-blue, brown or pink, and sometimes the tumour may have several shades (the so-called irregular pigment distribution).
– its dimensions range from 0.5 to 2-3 cm in diameter
– sore surface, bleeding or thickening at the base of the tumour are late and disturbing signs of the disease
– asymmetric borders, uneven coloration and size over 0.5 cm, due to the growth of an “old lesion” or a new one, are alarming signs, in which case you should consult a dermatologist!
Melanoma is a highly aggressive tumour with a high potential for early metastasis to the lymph nodes and internal organs, with 5-year survival at the advanced stages of the disease being of extremely low chance!

How to diagnose skin cancer?

Diagnosis of skin cancer can only be determined after examination by a dermatologist. In recent years, dermatoscopy has become a method with a high degree of specificity and effectiveness in the diagnosis of skin cancer, which allows its diagnosis at an early stage. The most important moment in the diagnosis of the tumour is to establish the stage of development, which determines the prognosis for the patient.
Inspect your skin and tell your doctor about any changes in the moles, new pigmented or non-pigmented spots on the skin.