3 Things you need to know about Skin Cancer

Cancer may be a life-threatening disease, but early diagnosis could help curb it from spreading and developing further.
Skin Cancer Awareness

Skin cancer or melanoma of the skin is the 15th most common type of cancer among women and the 13th most widespread among the male population. Globally speaking, skin cancer ranks as the 17th most prevalent type of cancer.
The importance of gaining awareness on terminal illnesses and a serious skin concern could benefit not just themselves but also their loved ones and other people they know.

Cancer in general chooses no one. If you have it, it’s a real game-changer in the long run. It will also entail countless medical bills, painful and agonizing treatments and the need for endless physical, mental, emotional, and social support from family and friends.

When a person learns what symptoms to look out for, they are also developing a higher awareness of their health and overall well-being.

Get your facts straight: What you don’t know about skin cancer

What causes skin cancer?

Direct exposure to sunlight or UVB and UVA rays is among the biggest contributors that make people predisposed to skin cancer. UVB and UVA rays are quite harmful to the skin, hence spending hours in the sun without wearing protective clothing or sunscreen and sunblock proves detrimental to one’s health.

Repetitive exposure to radiation and certain chemicals such as paraffin, industrial tar, and arsenic can also trigger the development of squamous cell carcinoma.

What other factors make a person predisposed to skin cancer?

Apart from direct exposure to the sun and highly hazardous chemicals, there are also genetic and non-genetic factors that can increase a person’s probability of developing skin cancer. These factors include family history of skin cancer, having several abnormal moles (also called dysplastic nevi), precancerous skin lesions, as well as having developed skin cancer in the past. At the same time, people with fair skin have a higher risk for skin cancer due to the fact that they have fewer amounts of melanin or skin pigmentation to protect them against UV radiation. At the same time, individuals with naturally red or blond hair, freckles, and history of sunburns are also more predisposed to skin cancer.

What are the symptoms or tell-tale signs that a person has skin cancer?

The symptoms of skin cancer will depend on the type of skin cancer, namely:

Melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer and the 17th most common in the world. It often starts as a regular mole or a dark spot on your skin. Its warning signs include an asymmetrical spot or mole on the skin. This means that one side of the mole could be darker while the other half is lighter. It also has an inconsistent and crenated border, shades of black, brown, tan, white, blue, and red. The diameter of a cancerous spot in melanoma is often larger than 6 millimeters, but may appear smaller upon diagnosis. Lastly, the spot or mole expands and evolves over time.

The symptoms of basal cell carcinoma is mostly apparent on the sun-exposed areas of the skin. These include the arms and legs, ears, mouth, and hands. In some cases, people diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma have bald spots on their head. Other signs and symptoms include crusty-looking sores with a hollowed center, lesions on the arms or legs that appear flat, and can either be pink or brown in color, and a small bump on the neck, ears, or face with a smooth and waxy texture.

Squamous cell carcinoma is not life-threatening, although its growth can be aggressive when not diagnosed and treated early on. Its symptoms include pink or red lumps and scaly lesions that can be itchy and prone to bleeding.

Other types of skin cancer include kaposi sarcoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), merkel cell carcinoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma. Kaposi sarcoma is quite rare and targets people with a compromised immune system. People diagnosed with this type of skin cancer have flat and bumpy blotches on their face, legs, and arms. These blotches may either be black, pink, red, purple, or blue in color. DFSP is also a rare skin cancer, but it also has a high survival rate. The symptoms start at the middle layer of the skin and spread out. It appears as a bump that resembles a scar. It can either be brown, pink, or red in color. In children, the symptom may resemble a birthmark.

Sebaceous gland carcinoma develops on the upper or lower eyelid. This aggressive type of skin cancer appears as a round and firm lump inside the eyelid. Although the bump is not painful, sebaceous gland carcinoma is aggressive. Lastly, merkel cell carcinoma begins at the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin. Specifically, it begins in the Merkel cells and appears as a small bump that’s purple or red in color. These bumps also appear on the sun-exposed skin. These lumps grow and spread at a fast rate. When scratched or opened up, the bumps resemble sores.

Some might encounter this article and shrug it off, thinking that because there are no symptoms present in their bodies, it means that they are spared from the possibility of acquiring the said disease. On the other hand, the knowledge of a terminal illness’s tell-tale signs could potentially save a life. Say a person may have a cancerous mole or bump on their skin, yet the lack of information on the signs and symptoms of skin cancer led them to ignore such a massive red flag.

If you or a loved one has any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult with your doctor immediately. Remember, cancer may be a life-threatening disease, but early diagnosis could help curb it from spreading and developing further.
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