Have you noticed any abnormal skin cell growth in your body lately? Be cautious if your skin is developing any kind of skin growth, which is not going away on its own. It may be a sign of skin cancer.
While this may sound scary, skin cancer can occur at any point in your life. Usually, skin cancer happens in the area that gets the maximum amount of sun exposure. However, other body parts may also get affected.
Having a detailed knowledge about the condition, its symptoms, types and treatments will help you to be prepared and deal with it in a better way. Here's what you need to know about skin cancer.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a condition where skin cells start growing at an abnormal rate. Originating from the epidermis of your skin, it is considered to be one of the most common cancers of all. There are multiple types of skin cancer and each one of them has a different appearance on your skin.  Two major categories of skin cancer are Keratinocyte carcinoma and Melanoma. These are often found responsible for abnormal growth.
You also need to understand that not all skin growth is cancerous. There is a wide range of non-cancerous skin growth that you may confuse with skin cancer. There are also types of skin growths that may not be cancerous during the first few stages but have full potential to turn into skin cancer.
That is why it is important to be very watchful when it comes to your skin. If you see any lumps, bumps or infection-like conditions that are not going on their own, get yourself checked. Fortunately, if treated at an early stage, skin cancer can be controlled as well as cured.
Besides, skin cancer is not contagious. You can not get cancer by touch or being in close proximity to a cancer patient.
What Are The Types & Symptoms Of Skin Cancer? 
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma mostly happens to fair-skinned people. Your skin develops flesh coloured or purple round bumps. Usually, basal cell carcinoma happens due to overexposure to sunlight for a long period of time. In a few cases, people who have spent several years indoors without sunlight may also develop the disease.
Commonly affected areas of your skin are the head, neck, arms, chest, abdomen and legs. It is essential that basal cell carcinoma is identified at the first stage of the condition. 
1. Waxy round bumps on your skin
2. Brown lesions like scars
3. Bleeding from the bumps
4. Not healing for a long time
5. The bump returns even after healing
2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
People with lighter skin tone are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma. But that does not mean people with dark skin are completely safe from it. They too may get affected by SCC. It looks like scaly patches on your skin’s surface. You will notice red firm bumps that heal but come back in no time. Squamous cell carcinoma mostly occurs in areas that are usually exposed to UV rays such as the ears, face, neck, arms and back. 
1. Appearance of nodules
2. The nodules may look red and firm
3. Flat lesions
4. Scaly patches
6. Crusted skin surface
Melanoma is known to be the most dangerous skin cancer among all. Experts say that melanoma does not stay in one area, and has a tendency to spread all over your skin. That’s what makes it even more threatening. It can develop in any part of your body or even turn a normal mole into a cancerous one. Melanoma has no boundaries for gender and skin tone. It can occur to people of any gender and any type of skin tone.
Both overexposure to sunlight or lack of sunlight can trigger melanoma. People with darker skin tone mostly get affected on their palms, soles, under the fingernails or toenails. Malignant melanoma is extremely aggressive and spreads fast. If not treated on time, it can be fatal. 
1. Huge brownish spots on your skin
2. Occurrence of mole(s) that changes size and colour with time.
3. Bleeding from the moles
4. Painful lesions
6. Burning sensation
7. Dark lesions on areas like mouth, nose, vagina, soles, palms, toes and under the nails.
4. Lesser-Known Skin Cancers
A. Kaposi Sarcoma:
It develops in your skin's blood vessels which leads to reddish patches on the surface of your skin. In the majority of cases, the patients have a weak immune system or are suffering from diseases like AIDS. Many people develop this condition after being under certain medication that weakens their natural immune system.
B. Merkel Cell Carcinoma:
If you notice some firm nodules on your head, neck and trunk, it may be merkel cell carcinoma. It may occur on the skin surface or under your hair follicles.
C. Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma:
It is another aggressive skin cancer that needs to be addressed at an early stage. Being extremely rare, it is difficult to identify. This condition develops from the oil glands of your skin. It appears on your eyelids as a hard nodule. Many people mistake the nodule with a normal eyelid issue and the treatment gets delayed.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
1. The primary reason for skin cancer is the mutations in the DNA of your skin cells. Due to the mutations, your skin cells start growing at an abnormally fast rate, leading to the spread of cancer cells.
2. Harmful ultraviolet rays are to be blamed for basal cell carcinoma in the first place. The rays damage the DNA of your skin cells and cause unusual cell growth.
3. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) develops due to the same reason as basal cell carcinoma. When your skin is exposed to extreme ultraviolet rays for a long period of time, you may develop squamous cell carcinoma. Another reason for this skin condition is overexposure to cancer-causing compounds. SCC can also happen from a few types of human papillomavirus.
4. There have been multiple studies to learn the causes of melanoma but the reasons are still vague. Experts are not sure why some moles turn into melanoma. Even though the causes are not clear, one known cause of melanoma is definitely the exposure to UV rays.
How To Detect Skin Cancer?
1. Always keep an eye out for your skin’s health. If you notice any abnormal growth whether painful or not, pay a closer look to it. Check if the bump is changing in size and colour or not healing. If such is the case, get an appointment with your doctor.
2. The first thing your doctor would do is examine the skin growth and check the shape, size and colour. The doctor will also check if you have any scaly patches, bleeding or other symptoms. Your doctor may suggest a biopsy for your skin.
3. Biopsy is an easy and safe procedure. The doctor will remove a small part of the skin growth and run some tests on it. This will help them identify if the skin growth is cancerous.
4. Unfortunately, if you are detected with skin cancer, your doctor will conduct a few more tests to confirm the stage. After that, you would be given proper medication.
What Are The Stages Of Skin Cancer?
It is technically the pre-cancerous stage when the cancerous cells have not grown outside of the outermost layer of your skin. It is still inside your epidermis.
Stage one is when the cancerous cells have spread out of your epidermis but have not grown much. The size of the growth should not be more than two centimeters.
The primary skin growth or the tumor has grown more than two centimeters but is yet to spread in other areas of your skin.
The cancerous cells start spreading to nearby areas and cause lymph nodes. Also, the primary tumor grows to more than three centimeters.
It is when cancer starts spreading aggressively and affects the bones and tissues of your body.
What Are The Available Treatments For Skin Cancer?
Chemo is a well-known treatment for cancer. In skin cancer, the drugs are usually given either orally or they are applied to your skin to kill the deadly cancerous cells.
In this procedure, the doctor uses liquid nitrogen that freezes the skin growth and eventually destroys it.
3. Excisional Surgery:
Skin cancers are often dealt with surgery. The doctor may remove the skin growth from your body.
4. Mohs Surgery:
Mohs surgery is time-consuming as the skin-growth is removed layer by layer. The doctor will examine each layer under a microscope to find the cancerous cell.
Immunotherapy refers to boosting your immune system to kill cancerous cells. The doctor will apply a cream to stimulate your immune system, so that it can fight against the cancer cells.
6. Curettage and electrodesiccation:
Curettage is when the doctor scrapes away your cancer cells using a spoon-shaped blade. But it does not remove the entire skin growth. The remaining cancerous cells are killed using an electric needle.
7. Radiation Therapy:
In this procedure, high-power radiation beams are used to destroy the cancer cells from your skin.
8. Photodynamic Therapy:
Similar to radiation therapy, here the doctor will use laser light and drugs on the cancer cells to destroy them.
9. Biological Therapy:
Biological treatments prepare your immune system to fight the cancer cells and win over them.
How To Prevent Skin Cancer?
Extreme sun exposure is a big threat to your skin. Hence, covering your skin while going out under scorching sunlight is the best way to keep yourself safe. Especially, stay indoors from 10 am to 4 pm to avoid the heat.
1.0Do not forget to apply sunscreen on the areas that are usually exposed to sunlight. The sunscreen should be above SPF 30.
2. Wear protective clothing such as full sleeve shirts, gloves, and sunglasses to avoid harmful UV rays. You can also wear a hat to cover your head.
3. If you’re undergoing any medication and that’s making your skin sensitive to sunlight, ask your doctor to change the medication.
4. Check your skin daily and if you see any kind of suspicious skin growth, lumps and nodes, consult your doctor.
Who Is At Risk Of Skin Cancer?
1. People with a family history of skin cancer.
2. People who are regularly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, arsenic compounds, and radiation.
3. People who spend a lot of time under sunlight without protection.
4. If you live in any high-altitude area with extreme weather conditions, you may develop skin cancer.
5. If you have multiple moles or nodes in your body, there is a chance of skin cancer.
6. If your skin looks unusually pale or freckled, you are perhaps at risk.
Being a serious condition, you need to devote a lot of time and attention to deal with skin cancer. With the advancement of science and technology, fortunately, most skin cancers can be treated if diagnosed at an early stage. With proper diagnosis and treatment you also need to keep a calm mind and a hopeful heart. You will get through the condition within no time.
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