Skin cancer is one of the common forms of cancer with the number of new skin cancer cases recorded, just in the United States alone, at over one million new cases annually. Skin cancer is considered the most common form of cancer, also the most treatable, and with the least amount of cancer related deaths. However, people with an active outdoor lifestyle still cannot take skin cancer for granted. Early detection can prevent the risk of cancer cells growth and development. Over exposure to the sun, or prolong outdoor activities, have been the primary cause of skin cancer development. The ultraviolet (UV) rays, both A and B, can penetrate, invade, and damage the cells and tissues of the skin.
The Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) are the most common types of skin cancer that result from too much exposure to ultraviolet rays (UV). They are both non-melanoma types of skin cancer. For sun-exposed skin, the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) can be severely damaged. Furthermore, DNA mutation can damage skin cells orderly pattern of growth and processes that can lead to the formation of a tumor.
Basal cell carcinoma is usually caused by the invasion of basal cells in the dermis. Basel cells are present in the lower layer of the skin and are responsible of creating new skin cells. Over- exposure to ultraviolet rays can affect basal cell’s deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and its development. BCC is slow growing and looks flat, small, pink or red in appearance. Depending on the type, it can be shiny, pearly or waxy nodule also may appear as red-patch or firm scar tissue.
The Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a neoplastic skin disorder affecting the squamous cells present in the outer layer of the skin. The uncontrolled transformation of cancerous stem cells in the epithelial tissue can cause accumulation of abnormal cells turning into a cancerous tumor. SCC either can occur in a normal skin or damaged skin. It appears as a small nodule and is slow growing with reddish skin and hard plaque. As it developed, it can have ulcerated lesion with raised edges and affects the underlying tissue. Unlike BCC, the squamous cell carcinoma spread faster to other parts of the body and has the tendency to come back.
Melanoma, as the name suggests, is skin cancer that affects melanocytes. Malignant Melanoma is a tumor affecting the melanin-producing cells. It can occur in various parts of the body that has melanocytes and can affect people of all ages. The skin changes and appears from a black to dark brown and growth can be irregular. It can appear as a mole, wart, or any abnormal growth. Melanoma can result from too much sun-exposure of those fair and light- skinned individuals.
Prevention of skin cancer is a personal choice. Health-conscious individuals avoid the scorching heat of the sun as much as possible, wears protection against ultraviolet rays and take extra precaution with tanning activities. Over time, the skin can develop lesions, tumor, or moles. Personal hygiene, hormonal changes, and aging can be taken into consideration. Skin abnormalities like blemishes, warts, patches, and dark spots appearing on the skin could be cancerous. These skin changes can be associated with pain, color changes, bleeding, itching, hardening, and others. Skin cancer can be hereditary and can affect those with weak immune system. A thorough body check in front of a mirror is one way to detect and prevent skin cancer. Any suspicious-looking skin growth can be a warning and needs immediate attention. Self-examination can be done regularly ensuring early detection of suspicious skin lesions. However, at the onset of symptoms, see a skin specialist or dermatologist immediately.