Skin Cancer - Types, Causes, Symptoms, and its Treatment

Oct 31, 2022, 16:45 IST

Cancer caused by the uncontrolled growth of skin cells is called skin cancer. These abnormal cells can spread to other parts of the body. This type of cancer is generally seen on the skin or in an area that is more exposed to the sun. A few cases where this cancer also affects an area of ​​the skin which is not exposed to the sun.

Types of Skin Cancer

The most common types of the skin cancer are-

  1. Basal cell carcinoma
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma
  3. Melanoma carcinoma

These three types of a skin cancers carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and the basal cell are the most common types of a skin cancers, which are also known as non-melanoma. Melanoma is a rare skin cancer and are more dangerous than other types of cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

A Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of a skin cancer with a lower risk factor. They are abnormal cells that arise in the basal cells of the skin, which are present in the deepest layer of the epidermis. A basal cell carcinoma would look like open sores, scars, and red spots with pink growths. They are usually caused by intense and continuous exposure to the sun's rays, especially ultraviolet rays. This is non-contagious cancer.

Causes of Basal cell carcinoma

This skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which is the main cause of basal cell carcinoma. The DNA present in skin cells is damaged when ultraviolet rays hit the skin. This DNA contains specific codes that control cell growth. If the DNA is damaged, it leads to basal cell cancer.

Symptoms of Basal cell carcinoma

This type of a skin cancer develops mainly on those parts of the body which are frequently exposed to the sun. Tumors can develop on the face, ears, shoulders, neck, scalp, and arms. Basal cell carcinoma is typically painless. The only symptom is the growth or change in the appearance of the skin.

Risk Factors of Basal cell carcinoma

  • The family history of skin cancer.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays and other radiations.
  • Usage of drugs that suppress the immune system.
  • Men are more susceptible to this disease than women.
  • This disorder attacks the old peoples within the age of 50-60 or above.
  • People with light skin are more affected than people with a darker complexion.

Treatment for Basal cell carcinoma

There are various treatments available for the basal cell skin cancer that usually depends on the location, severity and type of the disease. Below are the lists of few commonly used treatments for Basal cell carcinoma:

  1. Affected cells or tissues are removed through surgery.
  2. Cancer cells are killed by freezing in liquid nitrogen.
  3. Application of ointments or creams on scars and patches.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is also called squamous cell carcinoma. This disorder results from the abnormal growth of the unwanted cells in squamous cells. The squamous cell is the outer lining of the epidermis. Although it is not a life-threatening condition, it should be treated appropriately as it could lead to other severe symptoms.

Causes of Squamous cell carcinoma

This skin cancer is caused by DNA damage. A new cells are generated, and old cells are pushed out to form a rough patch on the skin. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the main cause of this disorder.

Symptoms of Squamous cell carcinoma

  • Open sores on the skin.
  • Red patches on the skin.
  • Red sore inside the mouth or on the ears.

Risk Factors of squamous cell carcinoma

  • Long term exposure to the UV radiation.
  • Living in the sunny regions or at a high altitude.
  • Being exposed to chemicals, such as arsenic.
  • Having fair skin with the light colored hair and blue, green, or gray eyes.
  • The history of multiple severe sunburns, mainly if they occurred early in life.

Treatment for Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma could be removed entirely through surgery. Treatments depend upon the location, size, and severity of the disease. A few treatments of squamous cell carcinoma are:

  1. Freezing
  2. Medications
  3. Laser therapy
  4. Cryotherapy and curettage

Melanoma carcinoma

Melanoma is the rarest and the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It develops in cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is responsible for skin color. The exact cause of melanoma has not yet been found. Younger women (up to 35-40 years) are more susceptible to this disease.

Causes of Melanoma carcinoma

The exact cause of melanoma cancer is not clear. Exposure to sunlight's ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk of melanoma. Limiting exposure to UV rays can help reduce the risk of melanoma.

Symptoms of Melanoma carcinoma

This skin cancer can develop anywhere in the human body, including the legs, arms, and face. A few visible symptoms are:

  1. Change in an existing mole.
  2. Change in the sensation.
  3. Unusual growth of the skin.
  4. The appearance of new spots on the skin.

Risk factors for Melanoma carcinoma

Several factors can make you more likely to develop melanoma, which includes:

  • Using tanning beds.
  • Having a personal or family history of a melanoma.
  • Having fairer skin or large numbers of moles on your body.
  • Living in locations with more sunlight, such as Florida, Hawaii, or Australia.
  • Getting sunburned frequently, especially if the sunburn is severe enough to cause your skin to blister.

Treatment for Melanoma carcinoma

Treatment of melanoma generally depends on the severity of the disease. Following are the treatments available for melanoma:

  1. Chemotherapy.
  2. Affected melanocytes are removed through surgery.
  3. Immunotherapy is used to treat melanoma. IMLYGIC, OPDIVO, KEYTRUDA, and ZELBORAF are Immunotherapy treatments approved by the FDA to treat melanoma skin cancer.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q1. How long does it take time for a skin cancer to fully develop?

Ans. The majority of sun exposure occurs before the age 18, and the skin cancer can take upto 20 years or more to develop. Whether your sunbathing days are behind you or you still spend time pursuing the perfect tan, you should be concerned about the skin cancer.

Q2. How fast does skin cancer spread?

Ans. Melanoma can grow very quickly. It can also become the life-threatening in 6 weeks and if untreated, it can also spread to the other parts of the body.

Q3. Can skin cancer spread by touch?

Ans. No, the skin cancer is absolutely not contagious—either by touch or by any other means. Although the certain viral and bacterial infections are linked to 15–20% of cancers worldwide, cancer itself is not the kind of disease that can be transmitted by close contact and shared air.

Q4. What is the most common treatment for skin cancer?

Ans. Surgery is the common treatment for the most skin cancers. For patients with basal cell or a dermatologist, squamous cell carcinomas, or other qualified doctor may perform the outpatient procedure using a local anesthetic.

Q5. Does skin cancer grow fast or slow?

Ans. A basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90% of all skin cancers in the United States, and it is the most common of all cancers. Generally, it is a slow-growing cancer that seldom spreads to the other parts of the body.

Related Link

Talk to Our counsellor