Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a type of cancer that grows in the skin tissue. This condition is characterized by changes in the skin, such as the appearance of bumps, spots, or moles with an abnormal shape and size.

Skin cancer is strongly suspected to be caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. UV rays can cause cell damage to the skin, leading to skin cancer.

There are three types of skin cancer that occur most often, namely:

  • Basal cell carcinoma, which is skin cancer that originates from cells in the deepest part of the outer skin layer (epidermis)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma, which is skin cancer that originates from cells in the middle and outer part of the epidermis
  • Melanoma, which is skin cancer that originates from skin pigment-producing cells (melanocytes)

Melanoma cancer is less common than  basal cell carcinoma  or squamous cell carcinoma, but it is more dangerous.

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is caused by genetic changes (mutations) in skin cells. The cause of the change itself is not known for sure, but it is suspected to be due to excessive exposure to sunlight.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the skin and trigger abnormal growth of skin cells. This condition has the potential to develop into  cancer .

In addition, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of skin cancer, namely:

Internal factors

Here are the internal factors that can cause a person to develop skin cancer:

  • History of skin cancer
    A person who has suffered from skin cancer is at high risk of getting skin cancer again. The risk of skin cancer will also increase if you have a family member with a history of skin cancer.
  • White
    skin Skin cancer can attack anyone, regardless of skin color. However, fair-skinned people have less melanin so protection against ultraviolet rays is weaker.
  • Moles
    A person who has many  moles or moles with a large size is more at risk of skin cancer.
  • Weak immune system
    People with weak immunity are at high risk of skin cancer, for example  HIV/AIDS sufferers and people taking  immunosuppressive drugs .
  • Solar keratosis
    Exposure to sunlight can cause rough and scaly spots with varying colors on the face or hands. This condition is called  solar keratosis . Solar keratosis is a precancerous condition and is very risky to turn into cancer.

External factors

Some external factors that can cause skin cancer are:

  • Exposure to sunlight
    People who are often exposed to sunlight, especially those who do not wear sunscreen , are more at risk of skin cancer. This condition is prone to be experienced by people who live in areas with a tropical climate or highlands.
  • Exposure to radiation
    Patients with atopic  eczema or acne who undergo treatment with radiation therapy (radiotherapy) are at high risk of skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma.
  • Display of chemicals
    There are many chemicals suspected to cause cancer (carcinogenic), one of which is  arsenic .

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Symptoms or signs of skin cancer generally appear on parts of the body that are often exposed to sunlight, such as the scalp, face, ears, neck, arms, or legs. However, skin cancer can also occur in parts of the body that are rarely exposed to sunlight, such as the palms, feet, or even the genital area.

The following are the symptoms of skin cancer based on the type:

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is  characterized by soft, shiny lumps on the surface of the skin, or flat lesions that are dark or reddish brown like flesh.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma  is characterized by hard red bumps on the skin, or lesions that are flat and scaly like crusts. Lesions can itch, bleed, and crust over.

Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancer is  characterized by brown spots or bumps. Melanoma does resemble a normal mole, but its shape is more irregular. The ABCDE method can be used to distinguish normal moles from melanoma. The method includes:

  • A symmetrical : most melanomas have an asymmetrical shape
  • B order : melanoma edges tend to be irregular
  • Color : more than one melanoma color
  • Diameter : the size of the melanoma is more than 6 mm
  • Evolution : there is a change in the shape, color, or size of a mole

Of the five factors, evolution is the most important sign of melanoma.

When should you go to the doctor?

Immediately check yourself with  a doctor  if there are abnormalities or changes in the skin, such as the appearance of bumps, boils, changes in skin color, moles that suddenly grow or change in shape, as well as skin wounds that are difficult to heal. The doctor will examine and determine the cause of the changes that occur in your skin.

It should be noted that not all skin changes are caused by skin cancer. However, skin cancer screening must be done to detect cancer early , in order to prevent cancer from developing to an advanced stage.

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

In diagnosing skin cancer, the doctor will perform a skin examination to see the abnormalities that occur. The examination is done on the shape, size, color, and texture of the skin. Through this examination, the doctor can determine whether the changes are caused by cancer or other diseases.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will perform  a skin biopsy . A biopsy is performed by removing a sample of skin tissue, then examined in the laboratory.

When skin abnormalities are caused by cancer, the doctor will determine the severity or stage of the skin cancer the patient is experiencing. Doctors can perform other examinations, such as  CT scan , MRI, or lymph node biopsy, to see the spread of cancer cells.

The following are the stages of skin cancer:

  • Stage 0
    Cancer cells are still in the same place and have not spread beyond the epidermis or the outer layer of the skin.
  • Stage 1
    Cancer has spread to the skin layer below the epidermis or called the dermis, but the size is no more than 2 cm.
  • Stage 2
    Cancer has not spread to other tissues, but the size is increasing to more than 2 cm.
  • Stage 3
    Cancer has spread to other nearby tissues, such as bone, and is larger than 3 cm.
  • Stage 4
    Cancer has spread to other tissues far away from the cancer's original site, such as lymph nodes, and the size is more than 3 cm.

Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer treatment depends on the type, location, and stage of skin cancer. There are several types of treatment that can be done, namely:

  • Cream for skin cancer
    Giving cream is done to treat early stage cancer that only attacks the upper layer of the skin.
  • Cryotherapy
    Cryotherapy aims to kill cancer cells at an early stage by using liquid nitrogen.
  • Operation
    The operation is performed by removing the cancerous tissue and the surrounding healthy skin. Surgery can also be performed by removing the tumor that grows in each layer of the skin and examining each layer under a microscope until there are no more cancer cells left (Mohs operation).
  • Curettage
    Curettage is performed by lifting the cancerous tissue using a special tool called a curette. Next, the remaining cancer cells will be burned with an electric needle (cauterization).
  • Radiotherapy
    Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells. This treatment is used when surgery cannot be performed or the spread of cancer cells has spread.
  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy is the administration of drugs in the form of drinking or injection to kill cancer cells.
  • Biological
    therapy Biological therapy is done by giving drugs or substances that can stimulate the body's immune system to fight cancer cells.

Complications of Skin Cancer

Every skin cancer sufferer is at risk of recurrence. Recurrent skin cancer can occur in the same area of ​​the body or the surrounding tissue. Skin cancer can also occur in other parts of the body. This condition occurs when cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body ( metastasis ).

Skin cancer can directly affect appearance, especially if it appears in areas not covered by clothing. This condition can trigger anxiety and depression in the sufferer.

Skin Cancer Prevention

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect the skin from exposure to sunlight or other sources  of ultraviolet  (UV) light, such as tanning devices . Efforts that can be made include:

  • Avoid sunlight during the day, because the strongest exposure to UV rays from the sun takes place between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Use  sunscreen routinely, to prevent the absorption of UV rays into the skin and reduce the risk of skin damage due to sunlight.
  • Wear clothing that covers the body, such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants, to protect the skin from the sun.
  • Also use a hat and sunglasses when leaving the house, to provide more protection to the head and eyes from the sun's radiation.
  • Avoid using  tanning beds , which are tools to darken the skin, because they can emit ultraviolet radiation that is harmful to the skin.
  • Be careful when using drugs that cause side effects on the skin, such as  antibiotics . To be safe, consult a doctor first.
  • Do a routine skin examination and immediately consult a doctor if you suspect any changes or abnormalities in the skin.
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