Skin Cancer - Causes, Types, Symptoms & Treatment
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Skin Cancer - Causes, Types, Symptoms & Treatment

The areas most affected by UV rays in our body are the head, neck, face, and hands. Therefore, skin cancer is more common in these regions. However, it is possible to encounter this cancer in areas not exposed to sunlight, such as the genital area. This type of cancer; occurs with symptoms such as swelling, wounds, spots, redness. To start skin cancer treatment early, people's bodies should be checked in a certain period. If you encounter situations similar to these symptoms, a doctor should be consulted.

What is Skin Cancer?

The skin, which is one of the largest organs in our body, has many functions. However, the abnormal growth of the cells that make up the skin causes skin cancer. The people with the most skin cancer are light-skinned, have moles, are exposed to the sun for a long time, and have a history of sunburn. Skin (skin) cancer is among the most common types of cancer. However, as a result of detecting spots or wounds on the skin, the causes and treatment of skin cancer are possible.

What Are the Types of Skin Cancer?

The skin has a texture consisting of several layers. Skin cancer is also divided into three different types depending on the cancerous cells in these tissues. While some skin cancers are easier to treat, others can be life-threatening.

Basal Cell Cancer: It is a type of cancer that can be seen in the basal cells of the epidermis, which is located in the uppermost layer of the skin. This type is the most common type of cancer. It is seen on parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. It is generally seen in fair-skinned men over 50 years of age. This type of cancer; shows signs such as bright swelling, open sores, and red spots. These conditions cause itching, crusting, and bleeding of the wounds.

Squamous Cell Cancer: It is a type of cancer that develops in the squamous cells found in the outer and middle layers of the skin. It can be seen on the neck, scalp, and hands in case of frequent exposure to machines such as a solarium or the sun's rays. People with a previous history of skin cancer, weak immunity, fair-skinned people over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing this type of cancer. In addition, this discomfort can be seen after some diseases. Symptoms of squamous cell cancer can be seen in parts of the body that are not in contact with the sun, such as the genital area. Since this ailment can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, early treatment is of great importance.

Melanoma: Although this type of cancer has the lowest risk of being seen among skin cancer types, it is the most dangerous. Melanism is the cells that give the skin its color. The malignant proliferation of these cells causes cancer. Melanoma, which spreads to other organs if not diagnosed early, does not occur due to exposure to sunlight alone. As a result of genetic structure, this cancer is caught. It can often appear on the body as black or brown spots. But it can also be seen as pinkish or blue spots. Melanoma can occur in any part of the body.

Causes of Skin Cancer

  • Being exposed to the rays emitted by machines such as solarium for a long time,
  • Having a history of sunburn and its recurrence,
  • It is not exposed to UV rays without protection for a long time,
  • Having the appearance of freckles, fair skin, or red hair,
  • Living in high altitude or sunny climatic regions,
  • Having to carry on business life outside,
  • Too many moles on any part of the body
  • The person or family members have had skin cancer,
  • The weak immune system,
  • Intense exposure to radiation
  • For a long time, arsenic, coal tar, etc. exposure to chemicals such as
  • The presence of open wounds in the body that do not heal for many years,
  • Smoking or getting old,
  • Organ transplant,
  • Some skin diseases
  • Sensitization to UV rays due to skincare products, some drugs, and diseases increase skin cancer risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a type of cancer that shows successful results when treated early.

Generally, skin cancer symptoms are;

  • The formation of recurrent and non-healing wounds in the body,
  • The formation of brown, red, blue, small or raised lesions,
  • The appearance of bleeding and crusted lesions,
  • The appearance of brown or red spots,
  • Increases in the number and size of moles seen on the body. That is, the formation of different types of moles,
  • The edges of the moles are irregular, asymmetrical, indented, more significant than 5 mm, and in different colors,
  • Observing bleeding or changes in moles,
  • Formation of red or colorless bumps,

Diagnosing Skin Cancer

Early diagnosis of skin cancer is essential. First of all, people should examine themselves. People can detect changes in their bodies in a bright area. They can get help from a hand mirror for places that are not visible on the body. If spots, moles, or lesions that were not detected before due to the controls are found, a dermatologist should make an appointment without waiting. The doctor will examine changes in the body. In the examination performed with the help of a method called dermatoscopy, the skin will be discussed in detail with a microscope. After examining the lesion or moles seen on the body, a skin biopsy can also be applied. In this biopsy, a lesion or a piece of me will be taken, and it will be checked whether there is a cancerous cell. According to the result, if there is a cancerous cell, which type of skin cancer will be determined.

How is Skin Cancer Treatment Performed?

Skin cancer treatment; differs according to the type of cancer, the stage of growth, and the region where it is located. Many different methods can be used in the treatment of this type of cancer. These different treatment methods are preferred to get rid of the tumor without losing function in the area where the tumor is seen. In addition, since this type of cancer is seen in areas where the sun is in contact with the body, care is taken to ensure no difference in aesthetic appearance during the treatment. To fully comply with these conditions, the treatment process should be carried out by a specialist doctor.

Methods Used in Skin Cancer Treatment

Depending on the developments in cancer treatments, there are many treatment methods applied to treat skin cancer. In general, these treatment methods are;

Mohs Micrographic Surgery: This cancer treatment method can be preferred for skin cancers other than Melanoma. With this treatment method, all cancerous cells are removed, aiming to protect healthy tissue. This technique is preferred in treating cancerous cells seen in hands, toes, ears, nose, lips, scalp, and genital area. In Mohs micrographic surgery, the tumor is removed and examined. In other words, it is a step-by-step treatment. Therefore, this treatment should be applied by experienced surgeons.

Excisional Surgery: This treatment method is applied to all types of skin cancer diagnosed early. In excisional surgery, healthy tissues, albeit in limited numbers, are removed along with cancerous cells.

Curettage and Electrocautery: Curettage and electrocautery are not recommended for large and aggressive types of skin cancer with metastasis. This treatment method is used for skin cancer types called superficial basal cells. With this treatment method performed under local anesthesia, the lesion is removed from the body with an instrument called a curette. However, to remove the cancerous cells that this spoon-like tool cannot remove and stop the bleeding, the area is burned with an instrument called electrocautery. This treatment method can be repeated 2 or 3 times to destroy cancerous cells from the body completely.

Cryotherapy: This method is preferred in skin cancer cases that are smaller than superficial and other types of cancer. In this treatment method, cancerous cells are frozen using liquid nitrogen in this procedure, which is applied without the need for any incision or local anesthesia; the frozen cancerous area swells and crusts and falls off on its own. During this period, swelling and redness can be seen. In addition, pigment loss can be seen in the treated area.

Photodynamic Therapy: With this method, local drugs are applied to the cancerous area to make the cells sensitive to light. Once the medicine has penetrated the skin, the dermatologist will apply powerful laser beams to the area. In this therapy, which is used to eliminate the tumor, healthy tissues may be damaged, albeit a little. After the treatment, symptoms such as scaling, peeling, pain, swelling and redness can be seen. In addition, after the treatment, people should avoid sunlight for 48 hours.

Radiotherapy: X-rays applied to eliminate cancerous cells are applied in tumors that have spread throughout the body or tumors not suitable for surgery. This treatment method is used together with other treatment methods in individuals who are elderly or have diseases that should not be operated on.

What are the Ways of Protection from Skin Cancer?

There are easy precautions to be taken to prevent skin cancer. These measures are;

  • During the summer period, do not sunbathe between 10.00-16.00 when the sun's rays are intense, and be careful to be in shaded areas during this period. Wear wide hats that cover your face, eyes, ears, and neck.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every 4 hours throughout the year.
  • Stay away from machines such as solarium.
  • Choose sunglasses that protect from UV rays.
  • Avoid chemicals such as coal and arsenic.
  • Check the moles and lesions that may occur on your body regularly and make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect anything.

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