What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the skin. It occurs when the skin cells grow abnormally and out of control, forming a tumor. There are several different types of skin cancer, but the most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears as a raised, pearly bump on the skin that may have visible blood vessels. It may also appear as a flat, scaly, reddish patch. Basal cell carcinoma is often found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and arms. It is generally slow-growing and rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears as a thick, rough, scaly patch that may bleed easily or develop a crust. Squamous cell carcinoma is also commonly found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and hands. It can grow more quickly than basal cell carcinoma and can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is a less common but more dangerous form of skin cancer. It typically appears as a new or changing mole on the skin. Melanomas can be black, brown, or multiple colors and often have an irregular shape. They may also be itchy, painful, or bleed. Melanomas can spread quickly to other parts of the body and can be life-threatening if not caught early.
Skin cancer is primarily caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. People with fair skin, a history of sunburns, a weakened immune system, or a family history of skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. It is important to protect the skin from the sun by wearing protective clothing, using sunscreen, and seeking shade during peak sun hours.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment and may involve removing the cancerous area and surrounding tissue. Other treatments include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Regular skin self-exams and yearly skin exams with a dermatologist can help detect skin cancer early, when it is most treatable. It is important to report any changes in the skin to a healthcare provider and to seek medical attention for suspicious growths or lesions.