Medicaoncology Skin Cancer

What is Skin Cancer?

We learn about the importance of ‘skin’ from a very young age. And indeed, it does do a lot more for us than we give it credit for. The biggest organ of the body, with a surface area of around 20 square feet, skin serves as both a protective barrier and a receptor for inputs from the environment. Our skin has three layers:

  • Epidermis
  • Dermis
  • Hypodermis

And our skin is made up of three main types of cells:

  • Squamous cells
  • Basal cells
  • Melanocytes

There are around 200 forms of cancers based on the tissue or organ where the cancer develops, and these are referred to as primary cancers. The term "metastasis" refers to the process of cancer spreading from one tissue to another. Malignancies that have migrated from their main sites, or where they first emerged, are known as secondary or metastatic cancers. Skin cancers are tumors that begin in the cells of the skin.

Medica’s oncology department excels in providing world-class cancer treatment driven by their collective clinical excellence of over 30+ years. With a multidisciplinary approach to treating all types and forms of cancer, our oncologists and onco-surgeons are supported by the latest cancer treatment technologies along with a team of highly-skilled reconstructive surgeons who deliver extensive treatment to all of our patients, adults and children alike.

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    Types

    There are several types of skin cancer but three are the primary types of skin cancer: They are:

    Basal Cell Carcinoma

    Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent type of skin cancer. Fair persons are more likely than dark people to get this type of skin cancer. BCC (basal cell cancer) is most commonly induced by years of exposure to the sun and indoor tanning. They usually show as a pearl-like bulge or a reddish patch of skin on the neck, head, or arms.

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    SCC is the most common type of cancer after basal cell carcinoma. Males, like other types of skin cancer, have a higher risk of having it, and white guys have a higher risk than blank men. The cancer appears as a red hard bump or a scaly area, or as a sore that heals and reopens frequently. These are most commonly seen on the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back, which are all regularly exposed to the sun. SCC causes skin damage and deformity. To prevent the spread of these malignancies, they must be detected and treated early on.

    Melanoma

    This is the worst type of skin cancer, and it shows as a mole or a black patch on the skin. To minimize the negative effects of these tumors, they must be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible after they are discovered.

    Other Types:

    Kaposi’s Sarcoma

    The Kaposi Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV), which attacks the cells of the blood and lymph vessels, causes this cancer. Patients with HIV are more likely to acquire this type of skin cancer. Swelling is caused by KS, which appears as brown, purple, or red patches or tumors on the skin. Kaposi’s sarcoma that has spread throughout the body can be fatal.

    Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

    The skin is affected by CTCL when the T-cell lymphocyte becomes cancerous. It is more common in males and women over the age of 50. Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is treated with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted treatments (insert 6.14).

    Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

    The oil glands are affected by this type of malignancy. This is an uncommon and dangerous type of skin cancer. Women above the age of 70 are more likely to be diagnosed with SGC. It most commonly affects the eye, but it can affect any area of the body.

    Merkel cell carcinoma

    Merkel cell cancer is an extremely rare type of cancer that affects the Merkel cells. When these cells are exposed to the light on a regular basis, they proliferate abnormally, leading to cancer. Merkel cell carcinoma has a high proclivity for spreading. In the early stages, it frequently spreads to distant lymph nodes and organs. Firm, painless, and rapidly developing lumps that are elevated or dome-shaped and violet or red in color form as the cancer progresses.

    Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans

    DFSP is a relatively rare skin cancer tumor that develops as a result of platelet-derived growth factor overproduction, which is caused by genetic abnormalities. It affects the limbs and trunk of the body, as well as the skin’s dermis.

    Symptoms

    Skin cancer symptoms depend upon the type and stage of cancer. Patients, especially those having a high risk of skin cancer, should monitor the warning signs of skin cancer. Some symptoms of skin cancer are:

    • Growth of a mole that does not disappear
    • Change in the size and color of the mole
    • Burning and itching sensation in the lesions
    • Lesions with uneven edges
    • The unusual color of the spot, such as black, pink, white or red
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    Causes

    Information about the division of the cells is present in our DNA. Skin cancer occurs due to DNA mutation. These mutations damage the information in DNA and cause uncontrolled division of cells. However, the exact cause of these mutations remains unknown. These DNA mutations in basal cells, squamous cells, and melanocytes cause different types of cancer. Skin cancer treatment depends upon the site of the tumor.

    Other Risk Factors

    Several factors increase the risk of skin cancer. Some of them are:

    • Excessive Sun Exposure: Individuals with considerable exposure to the sun are at high risk for developing skin cancer. People with skin tanning are also at increased risk. It is because tanning occurs due to an inflammatory response to solar exposure.
    • Family History: Individuals with a family history of skin cancer are highly likely to develop this condition. Further, people with a history of skin cancer have a high risk of recurrence.
    • Harmful Radiation: People exposed to harmful radiations, such as radiations for skin treatment, are at risk for skin cancer. Exposure to toxic substances, such as arsenic also increases skin cancer risk.
    • Weak Immune System: People with a weak immune system are at high risk for developing skin cancer. Such people include AIDS patients and patients on immune-suppressing drugs.
    • Precancerous Lesions: The pre-cancerous lesions may progress into cancer. Consult with the doctor if you experience any sudden change in skin characteristics.
    • Fair Skin: Skin cancer can affect everyone, regardless of skin color. Having less pigment (melanin) in your skin, on the other hand, gives less protection from harmful UV rays. You’re considerably more likely to acquire skin cancer if you have blond or red hair, light-colored eyes, and you freckle or sunburn easily than someone with darker skin.
    Stages

    Skin cancer stages depend on the type of skin cancer you have developed.That means, different types of skin cancers have different symptoms and timelines of progression. It is different for non-melanoma types of skin cancers, i.e., basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Only after the right diagnosis and assessments should your doctor be able to determine the stage of your skin cancer. Your dermatologist or general physician will perform routine tests and ask you related questions before sending you to an expert oncologist or oncosurgeons.

    Diagnosis

    The doctor uses the following tools to diagnose skin cancer:

    • Physical Examination: The doctor will evaluate the skin changes to determine the presence of cancer. The doctor may advise further tests to confirm the presence of cancer.
    • Biopsy: The doctor may advise the patient to undergo a biopsy. The doctor obtains the tissue sample and sends it to the laboratory for testing. A biopsy helps in determining the presence and type of skin cancer.
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    Treatment

    There are the following treatment options for managing skin cancer:

    Surgery: During the excisional surgery, the doctor removes the cancerous part. The doctor also removes the healthy tissue margin during this process.

    Cryotherapy: The doctor uses this procedure to treat thin squamous cell and basal cell cancer. In this process, the doctor uses a circular blade and removes the layer of cancerous cells. In some cases, the doctor also uses liquid nitrogen for freezing.

    Mohs Surgery: The doctor implements this procedure when treating skin cancer is a challenge. This process allows the doctor to preserve the maximum healthy tissues. The doctor removes cancerous tissues layer-by-layer during this surgery and evaluates each layer under the microscope.

    Chemotherapy: The doctor may also prescribe drugs for killing cancer cells. If the cancer is limited to the topical layer, the doctor may prescribe creams and lotions for topical administration. The doctor uses systemic chemotherapy in the advanced stage of the disease.

    Radiotherapy: Radiation therapy involves killing the cancerous cells by high energy radiation. Radiation therapy can be used along with surgery or chemotherapy.

    Phototherapy: The patients are given the drugs that make the cancerous cells more sensitive to light during phototherapy. Then the cancerous cells are killed by targeting them with LASER.

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