Cancer and Lifestyle

What is Skin Cancer? 3 Types of Skin Cancer

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:49 am

Skin cancer is a type of cancer that affects the top layer of the skin. It usually appears as a red or brown spot on the skin. There are 3 types of skin cancer. Some are more dangerous than others. Learn about them here!

What is Skin Cancer?

A variety of reasons can cause malignant cells to develop in the tissues of the skin. This condition is called skin cancer. Although a type of cancer, skin cancer is quite curable if detected early. So, if you find an unusual spot or lump on your skin or a part of your skin that shows signs of discoloration or changes in size or shape, you must not delay consulting a doctor.

The doctor will remove a part of the affected skin and send it to a laboratory for a biopsy. A biopsy will confirm malignant cells in the skin. It takes almost a week for the results of a biopsy to come in.

3 Skin Cancer Types

The doctor prescribes a particular course of treatment depending on the type of cancer, the stage it has the reach, and also its location. The three most common types of skin cancer are BCC, SCC, and melanoma.

  1. SCC or Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the type of cancer that occurs because of the formation of malignant cells in the skin’s epidermis.
  2. BCC or basal cell carcinoma develops in the basal cells that surround the squamous cells of the epidermis.
  3. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. The human skin has cells called melanocytes that produce the skin-coloring pigment melanin. When these melanocytes turn cancerous, the condition is called melanoma or malignant melanoma.

While deciding upon the best treatment option, the doctor considers the patient’s age and general health as well. The most effective forms of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, freezing, and scraping.

Skin Cancer Treatment

The most effective treatment for skin cancer is surgery. Now there are different surgery that can be performed depending on the type and stage of cancer.

  • If the skin has developed a small cancerous part, that part of the skin can be easily removed by performing excisional surgery. If the affected portion of the skin is bigger, some of the nearby skin may have to be removed as well, and the patient may need skin grafting to cover the area. 
  • Moh’s micrographic surgery is another technique in which the affected skin has been removed a tissue at a time and examined under the microscope. The process is continued until no cancer cell is left in the skin. If the cancer is tiny, instead of removing it, the doctor freezes and kills the cancerous cells by spraying or injecting them with liquid nitrogen. This process is called cryotherapy.
  • Another surgical process is lymphadenectomy where the lymph nodes nearby the cancer cells are removed to prevent spreading the cancerous cells to those lymph nodes. Curettage and electrocautery are another surgical technique where the cancerous cells are scraped off and either heat or electricity is used to prevent any bleeding.

There are superficial skin cancers like BCC that don’t require surgery and can be treated by laser therapy. Laser therapy involves shining a very intense beam of light on the cancerous growth to destroy it. There is also radiotherapy in which X-rays are used to destroy the cancerous cells. Radiotherapy is also used for large cancers that are formed too deep inside the skin or for cancers that are formed in areas where surgery might be hazardous.

Photodynamic Therapy or PDT is a relatively new form of treatment that has proved to be effective in skin cancer treatment. In PDT, cancer cells are destroyed using a light-sensitive drug and a beam of visible light. Topical medications, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy, though not very common for skin cancer treatment, can also be effective depending on several factors.

Depending on general health conditions and age, anyone suffering from skin cancer is eligible to receive treatment for the same. Doctors try to avoid radiation therapy for treating young people with skin cancer as radiotherapy sometimes ends up increasing the chances of cancer in other parts of the body in the future.

Skin Cancer Treatment Cost In India

The cost of the treatment depends on the stage of the disease and the particular course of treatment followed. However, it is not a very cheap disease to have. The treatment for skin cancer can cost anywhere between Rs.10,000-Rs.2,50,000 depending on a lot of factors.

Skin Cancer Treatment Side Effects

The treatment for skin cancer has a few potential side effects. Radiotherapy is a very common form of treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Radiotherapy causes irritation in and around the area of the skin being treated, skin discoloration and hair-loss in that area. Radiation also causes some damage to the salivary glands and teeth when it is used to treat cancer formed around these structures.

Chemotherapy causes acne, discoloration, blistering, peeling, and hypersensitivity to the sun. Chemotherapy also causes the nails to become brittle or cracked.

Skin Cancer Post Treatment Guidelines

Patients who have undergone treatment for skin cancer are usually advised to avoid direct contact with sunlight for long periods of time. Patients are also advised to use creams providing UV protection while going out in the sunlight. If cancer comes back, patients have to follow up with their doctors.

The length of the recovery period really depends on the type of treatment that the patient went through. However, whether it was surgery or otherwise, it should not take a patient more than a week to a few months to recover completely.

Cancer Test In Pune

A complete blood count (CBC) measures three types of blood cells circulating in your bloodstream. The results can help healthcare providers diagnose cancer or detect whether cancer has spread.

Is Skin Cancer Curable?

Skin cancer is almost curable if it can be detected at a very early stage. 98% of people survive for 5 years and more if their cancer gets diagnosed at an early stage. But, the survival rate goes down to 62% if cancer spreads through the body in its later stages. And even if cancer gets cured, there is no guarantee that it won’t come back a few years down the line.

Any Alternatives to the Skin Cancer treatment

The conventional methods for treating skin cancer also bring a lot of side effects to the table. To avoid those, there are a few natural remedies for treating the disease. Black raspberry seed oil, eggplant extract, myrrh oil, and frankincense oil have anti-cancer properties and can treat skin cancer. However, there is no proof of their effectiveness.

Black pepper is an excellent agent in curing skin diseases, such as vitiligo. The latter is a condition where patches of skin lose normal pigmentation and become white. Recent studies have shown that pepper combined with UV therapy is a better alternative compared to chemical-heavy treatments. Black pepper can successfully prevent skin cancer.

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