Skin Cancer – Types and Treatment
There is a direct link between skin cancer and sun exposure. It is usually found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to sunlight. However, it can also develop in areas that are rarely exposed. For that reason, the skin all over your body should be examined regularly. There are three types of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Skin cancer can develop on the face, lips, ears, scalp, hands, palms, under your fingernails, between your toes, and anywhere on your body where you have skin. It can strike people of all skin tones and can develop slowly over time or appear suddenly.
The most common type of is known as basal cell carcinoma. This is also the most easy to treat. It typically appears as a waxy bump on your skin or as a flat lesion that resembles a scar.
Squamous cell carcinoma has more of a tendency to spread but is still easy to treat if it is caught early. This type of skin cancer appears as a firm red bump on your skin or as a flat lesion with a scaly surface.
Melanoma can develop on your skin or cause an existing mole to become cancerous. Melanoma accounts for the most cancer related deaths. It appears as a brown spot on your skin that has an irregular color and jagged borders. Melanoma can also cause your mole to change shape or color; it may cause your mole to bleed. Melanoma lesions can also appear on mucous membranes inside your mouth and nose.
You may have a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have fair skin, eyes and hair. Your risk is also higher if you sunburn or freckle easily. If you had multiple sunburns as a child or teen then your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult is greater. People who spend a lot of time in the sun working or tanning increase their risks if they do not wear protective clothing or use sun screen properly.
Treatment for cancer is simple and effective if the cancer is caught early. The cancer is removed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia. The cancer is removed along with healthy tissue that surrounds it so no stray cancer cells are left behind. Surgery may be performed with a laser that directs a targeted beam of energy onto the cancer so it is destroyed. Laser surgery works well on surface cancers and on pre-cancerous growths.
Mohs surgery is another type of treatment. This requires the surgeon to remove skin a layer at a time. Each layer is examined for cancer cells. In this manner the cancer cells can be removed without taking away too much healthy tissue.
Some types of cancer can be killed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. The cancer falls off as it thaws. Radiation and chemotherapy are also used in the treatment of skin cancer. Chemotherapy can be taken orally or applied directly to the skin cancer in the form of a cream or lotion.
Skin cancer can be treated much easier while in the early stages. Therefore, frequent self-examinations and regular full body exams by your doctor are very important. You can also take steps to prevent skin cancer by being wise about sun exposure. Wear sunscreen even in the winter and avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.