Monday, May 4, 2009

Skin cancers – Causes and symptoms

Cancers that form on the surface of the skin are called skin cancers. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer seen in humans. It is estimated that over 1 million new cases occur annually across the globe. The annual rates of all forms of skin cancer are increasing each year, representing a growing public concern. Usually seen in fair skinned people above 50 but those not so fair and younger people can get it too.

Our skin is made up of mainly two layers -the dermis, which is the inner layer and the outer layer called the epidermis. Based on type of skin cell that develops cancer, the name is accorded to the skin cancer. Thus if the cancer develops from squamous cells it is called squamous cell carcinoma while if it develops from basal cell of epidermis it is called Basal cell carcinoma. If it develops from melanocytes (pigment-forming cells) it is called melanoma.

Though most skin cancers remain localized but melanoma is known to be notorious to spread to other parts of body if ignored early. Squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell can spread too if ignored early.


How skin cancer is formed?

Skin cancer is caused by damage to DNA either directly by sunlight or potential carcinogenic chemical exposures or by indirect mechanism after generation of free radicals which may result from environment pollution which then cause damage to DNA by an indirect mechanism. The cells of the skin thus start multiplying uncontrollably causing formation of skin cancer.

Causes of skin cancer

Based on our skin color or the melanin content in our skin, there are six different types of skin ranging from the extremely fair to the really dark complexion. Generally, Africans fall under the type 6 category, whites fall under type 1 and 2 category, with Indians falling under the 3,4 and 5 skin type. While people under the type 6 category are least prone to develop this cancer, the ones falling under type 1 and 2 are most susceptible to it.

The following are the risk factors of developing cancer of the skin:

#Over-exposure to UV-radiation can cause skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB are implicated in causing skin cancers. Sun exposure between 10 AM and 4 PM is most intense and therefore most harmful. People living close to the sea or beach and exposed to high levels of UV rays should take more precautions to avoid these harmful rays. Also, environmental damage like the depletion of the ozone layer makes us prone to excessive ultraviolet rays causing increase in the number of skin cancer patients.

#Chronic non-healing wounds can also develop skin cancers.

#Genetic predisposition is by far the most important factor implicated in all cancers and especially for skin cancers. A history in skin cancer also Increases the chances of a person developing this disease. People who have parents or some one in the family with skin cancer have a higher risk of getting it.

# Large moles or Nevi larger than 20 mm in size are at higher risk for becoming cancerous.

#Human papilloma virus (HPV) is associated with development of skin cancers.

#Occupational exposure to coal, tar, arsenic compounds, radium, and other chemicals increase the risk of skin cancer considerably.

#Regular smokers are more likely to get this cancer than non-smokers.


Symptoms of cancer of the skin:

Skin cancer is a disease, which has very visible signs when it occurs and any indication of it should immediately be consulted with a dermatologist. Some of the most common symptoms of this cancer are increase in the size of an existent mole, discoloring of some of the skin in some parts, increase or a sudden onset of growth in the skin, bleeding from growths or spots in the skin, non healing ulcers or growths that don't resolve with medication.

Skin cancer – Causes and Symptoms
Different Types of Skin Cancer
Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Skin Cancer

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In this blog the outline of different diseases and their treatment are written, compiling from different medical text books. They are meant for your overall knowledge about the disease and not for any self treatment. Always consult registered medical personnel for the treatment of any ailments.

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Sparsha

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