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What is skin cancer and what are its signs and how to treat it?

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Skin cancer is an abnormal proliferation of skin cells that arises and develops in most cases on the face of the skin that is exposed to a lot of sunlight, and this common type of cancer can also develop in areas of the skin that are not exposed to much sunlight.

Skin cancer has different forms, so early signs of the disease must be known in order to ensure the effectiveness of treatments.

And health experts constantly warn, during hot weather, of the risk of skin cancer, which can be fatal when not diagnosed early.

Many people are not aware of what skin cancer can look like, and it not only causes moles to change, but it can lead to lumps and lesions that some may miscalculate the risks.

Therefore, the warning signs of the disease must be known in order to ensure the effectiveness of treatments.

In fact, there are different forms of skin cancer that generally include melanoma (melanoma cell carcinoma) and non-melanoma skin cancer.

What is skin cancer?

Non-melanoma skin cancer:

Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that develop slowly in the upper layers of the skin.

The cells in the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) are most at risk of sun damage.

In the epidermis, the most common cells are called keratinocytes. These cells are constantly lost when new cells are formed. However, when the skin is exposed to a lot of sunlight, it causes DNA damage.

Over time, this becomes a problem, and causes cells to grow uncontrolled, leading to cancerous tumors.

Melanoma skin cancer:

Melanoma or melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

Melanocytes are cells in the skin that give us the color of our skin because they produce a pigment known as melanin.

When exposed to the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment, which spreads to other skin cells to protect them from the sun’s rays.

But melanocytes are also the site of cancer staging, where too much UV rays cause sunburn, a sign of skin DNA damage.

Ultraviolet radiation causes changes in the melanocytes, making the genetic material defective and causing abnormal cell growth.

And people who burn easily are more likely to get skin cancer because their cells don’t produce as much pigment to protect their skin.

People with albinism are most at risk because their skin produces no pigment at all.

What are the symptoms?

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

Most experts recommend using the simple ABCDE rule to look for symptoms of melanoma, which can appear anywhere on the body:

A for the asymmetric shape:

Look for moles that are irregularly shaped, such as halves, that are very different in shape from each other.

B for irregular edges:

Look for moles with irregular edges, notched or rounded edges — which are characteristic of melanomas.

C for changes in color:

Look for growths that have too many colors or an uneven distribution of colors.

D for diameter:

Look for new growth in a mole of about 6 mm.

E for evolution:

Look for changes over time, such as moles that grow in size or change in color or shape. Moles may also develop new signs and symptoms, such as recent itching or bleeding.

It is noteworthy that moles may look soft, pearly or waxy, and they look like a solid red mass and can bleed at times, and never completely heal, and can look like a flat red spot and scaly and may develop into a painless ulcer.

It is noteworthy that 75% of all skin cancers recur in basal cell carcinoma. They are usually slow growing and never spread to other parts of the body. If this type of skin cancer is treated at an early stage, it is usually cured completely.

If it becomes more aggressive, the cancer may spread to the deeper layers of the skin and into the bones, which can make it more difficult to treat.

The other form of non-melanoma skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which is a cancer of the keratinocytes found in the outer layer of the skin.

These cells are found mainly in the face, neck, bald scalp, arms, backs of hands and legs.

Non-melanoma skin cancer most often develops on areas of skin regularly exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, hands, shoulders, upper chest and back.

Itchy skin and/or itchy moles can be a sign of skin cancer.

Also, the appearance of a hard, red, itchy spot may be a major symptom of a type of non-melanoma skin cancer, Bowen’s disease (which is the primary form of squamous cell carcinoma in its early stages).

A study from 2018 that examined data on 16,000 people with generalized itch found that they were more likely to develop cancer (including skin) than those who did not experience itching.

Usually, skin cancer is identified by a new or changing spot on the skin. But in some cases, itching may be the reason for noticing the spot.

It is indicated that itching may be a sign of another health condition, and therefore a visit to the doctor should be made to ensure an accurate diagnosis.

Can the disease be treated?

Skin cancer can be successfully treated when detected early. However, there is a possibility of his return.

Types of treatment depend on the type of skin cancer, its extent, location and stage.

The main treatment is surgery to remove it from the affected area. The surgery is usually minor and is performed under local anaesthesia.

When surgery can’t be used, other treatments include radiation therapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy cream.

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