How to identify skin cancer?

 How to identify skin cancer?

How to identify skin cancer?_

CANCER, well you all might have seen someone or the other close to you or around you suffering from cancer right? And that might have terrified you because of how dangerous that disease can be. CANCER, although just a six letter word, has a lot of negative impact on the minds of the people, because of the fact that one can hardly see anyone getting recovered from cancer and living a happy life, because what most of the times we see is cancer leading to the death of our loved ones. Thus, one can see that a lot of awareness has been rising against cancer, it’s symptoms, types and treatment so that people don’t have to lose their loved ones to a deadly disease yet again. 

And today we are going to talk about one such cancer and how to identify it, and it is none other than Skin Cancer, one of the most common types of Skin Cancer. So in today’s article we are going to see what is cancer, skin cancer and most importantly how to identify skin cancer?

What is cancer? 

Cancer is a type of disease in which some of the body’s cells grow crazily and outspreads to other parts of the body. 

Cancer can develop anywhere and everywhere in the human body, which is made up of billions & billions of cells. Usually, human cells grow and multiply (through a process known as cell division) to form new cells as it the necessity of the body. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells appear in place of the old ones.

However once in a while this orderly procedure breaks down, and abnormal or damaged cells grow and multiply in a crazy manner when they shouldn’t. And these abnormal or damaged cells may form tumours, (Tumours are nothing but lumps of tissues). Although Tumours can either be cancerous or non - cancerous (also known as benign).


What is Skin Cancer?

Skin Cancer is nothing but the abnormal growth of the skin cells and most often develops on the skin that is most exposed in the sunlight. But that doesn’t mean that one can be affected by skin cancer on the areas not exposed to the sun. There are three main types of Skin Cancer and they are as follows:

  • Basal cell carcinoma, 

  • Squamous cell carcinoma and 

  • Melanoma

And they have got their names from the different layers of the skin, meaning the layer of the skin where the cancer cells grow or develop.

Where Skin Cancer develops?

Skin cancer develops essentially on areas of the skin that is exposed to the sun, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day —one’s palms, beneath their fingernails or toenails, and their genital area.

Skin cancer affects people of all skin types, including those with dark skin. If melanoma occurs in people with dark skin, it is more likely to occur in areas exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.

Where does Skin Cancer Start?

Most skin cancers start in the upper layer of the skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in the epidermis:

• Squamous cells: Squamous cells are flat cells in the upper (outer) part of the epidermis, which constantly break down as new ones form. When these cells grow out of control, they can develop into squamous cell carcinoma (also called squamous cell carcinoma).

• Basal cells: Basal cells are located at the base of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form a new cell and replace the aging squamous cells on the surface of the skin. As these cells grow in the epidermis, they become flattering, thus becoming squamous cells. Skin cancer that starts in the basal cell layer is called basal cell cancer or basal cell carcinomas.

• Melanocytes: Melanocytes are cells that form a brown pigment called melanin, which causes the skin to darken or turn brown. Melanin acts as a natural sunscreen for the body, protecting the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma skin cancer starts in these cells.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Skin Cancer?

Although Skin Cancer itself is one of the most common types of cancer, we still have different types of skin cancer and, let's take a look at which type of skin cancer is most common.

Of all the different types of skin cancer, Basal and squamous cell cancer are the most common types of skin cancer. They usually start on the upper layer of the skin (known as the epidermis), and are usually caused by exposure to the sun.

And now finally coming to how to identify skin cancer?

Like already mentioned above Skin cancer is one of the most common type of cancer. If one knows what to look for, they can see early warning signs of skin cancer. Getting it early, if it is small and not spreading, makes skin cancer much easier to treat. 

Some doctors and other health professionals include skin tests as part of a standard medical examination. Many doctors also recommend that one should examine their skin at least once a month. They ask us to look at your skin in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror, and also to use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see. 

And last but not the least to use the "ABCDE rule" to look for some of the most common symptoms of melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry 

One part of the mole or birthmark is not the same. 

  • Border 

The edges are irregular, rough, not shortened, or blurred. 

  • Color 

Color is not universal and may include shades of brown or black, sometimes with pink, red, white, or blue stripes. 

  • Diameter 

The area is larger than ¼ inches in diameter - about the size of a rubber pencil - although melanoma can sometimes be smaller. 

  • Evolving 

Mole can vary in size, shape, or color.

Other than the ABCDE rule, one can also look for:

  • Any new spots. 

  • Any area that does not look like the rest of your body. 

  • Any non-healing wound.

  • Redness or new swelling across the border of the mole. 

  • Color spreads from the boundary of the area to the surrounding skin. 

  • Itching, pain, or sensitivity in the acute or chronic area then returns. 

  • Changes in the face of the mole: swelling, stiffness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or lump.

And the above mentioned techniques are some of the ways one can look for and identify skin cancers, and as one knows that precaution is better than cure and that is the reason why one should always look out for these signs and symptoms on their skin and the moment they find and feel it’s suspicious they should visit the doctor and get themselves treated, because always remember ‘Better Late than Never’. 

Ref: How to Spot Skin Cancer

Skin cancer - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

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