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Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It is triggered when the DNA damages to the skin cells go unrepaired, causing genetic defects or certain sudden changes that cause the skin cells to multiply and form malignant tumours. The most common signs of skin cancer are changes in the skin such as moles, freckles or normal patches on the skin or even certain growths that do not heal.

Skin cancers are the most common type of cancers and they include melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell. Basal cell and squamous cell are common and their treatment can be very effective. Skin cancer starts as pre-cancerous lesions that progress into cancer.

Symptoms of skin cancer

The first symptom may be the appearance of a discolored patch that may be the first present for few weeks and then disappear. Skin cancers may resemble several other skin conditions; in most cases they may be red and firm and sometimes they may turn into ulcers or cancerous patches that are flat and scaly.

Causes of skin cancer

The main cause of skin cancer may be exposure to Ultraviolet light. Other causes may be:

  • Immunosuppression
  • Exposure to high levels of radiation, such as X-rays
  • Contact with chemicals such as arsenic and hydrocarbons
  • Infection with human papillomavirus
  • Smoking
  • Certain types of moles

People with a higher risk of skin cancer may be:

People with fairer skin, individuals with genetic disorders such as albinism and Xeroderma pigmentosum (altered DNA as a result of ultraviolet light), people with numerous or large moles that are present at birth, people with severe sunburn early in life, individuals who have received an organ transplant.

Types of non-melanoma type of cancer

  • Basal cell carcinoma: Also known as rodent ulcer, this type lines both the epidermis. The tumor has a shiny surface, is pearly white in color, and tends to bleed frequently. It may also ulcerate.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: It affects the middle layer of the epidermis. It is usually more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. It shows on the skin as a well-defined, red, scaling, thickened bump on the sun-exposed skin. It may also ulcerate and bleed. It usually develops in the head, neck, lips, and ears. They usually may not spread to other sites, but larger lesions may spread.

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