The non-melanoma skin cancer is formed from the different skin melanocytes cells. It is more common in head, face, neck, back of the hands, arms and legs, the most exposed areas  to sunlight.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the degeneration of the normal skin cells to abnormal or cancerous cells.

There are two types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. The non-melanoma is different from the melanoma skin cancer  that forms from skin cells other than melanocytes (cells that produce the pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair).  Both can occur anywhere on the skin, but is most common in the skin of the head, face, neck, back, arms and legs. That's because these parts more exposed to the sun.

Sun exposure and sunburn are the most common cause of this type of tumors. In fact, the damage caused by the sun accumulates over the years, so that the higher exposure to the sun (or tanning beds) has had throughout of life, higher risk of skin cancer shall exist.

The skin consists of three layers, which from the outside inwards, are: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis.

skin cancer symptoms, causes, types, and treatment

The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:
  • Basal cell carcinoma (also called BCC): is the most common, occurring in the basal cells of the outermost layer of skin (epidermis).
  • Squamous or squamous carcinoma: is the second most common and occurs in the upper layers of the epidermis (where they are called squamous cells).

Both have easy treatment because their growth is slow and its ability to induce metastasis is very low, but if left untreated can become large tumors of difficult surgical control or extended at local, regional level (affecting the lymph nodes), or remotely.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Skin Cancer

The symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer affect the aspect that skin looks. This type of tumors appear as abnormal skin areas. They can be pink lesions, red (erythematous), inflamed, scaly lesions (dry), bleeding, like open wounds-that can make us suspect the existence of a skin cancer.

Some people (especially those with very fair skin) develop scaly lesions, rough or rough surfaces called actinic keratosis; these lesions are most commonly found on the skin of the face, ears, arms and scalp (especially in people with alopecia), and may become malignant skin cancers. Often these lesions are usually removed to reduce the risk of this could happen.

Diagnosis of Skin Cancer (Non-Melanoma)
Any suspicious lesion indicate the presence of skin cancer should be examined by the doctor for diagnosis or monitoring of the injury, and if deemed indicated, a biopsy will be performed (remove part or the entire lesion) and then examined in the microscope and diagnose (pathological diagnosis).
Suspicion of locoregional or distant spread, you must complete the study with other imaging (ultrasound, CT or MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging), analytical, and so on.

Treatment and Prevention of Skin Cancer

The treatment of skin cancer are vary depending on skin type of the patient, lesion size, depth of penetration, the aesthetic result, their location and age or other health problems that patients have.

The available main treatments for skin cancer are:
  • Surgery: resect (remove) a complete or partial tumor. Mostly, the treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis (no input). Typically, local anesthesia to these surgical procedures is used. Several types of surgery that can be used are depending on the type of tumor and its location.
  • Mohs surgery (micrographic): is the surgeon, assisted by a microscope, and is removing each layer of the skin that is affected by the tumor. Each dried layer is examined under a microscope, and if it is infiltrated, is continued to remove the last infiltrated layer by the tumor. This procedure is limited to the area that well occupied by the tumor, preserving the healthy tissue, and has cure rates close to 98%. It is used most often in sensitive areas: general lesions of the face such as the eyelids (or near the eyes), ears, nose, lips ... -. The resulting scar may heal by second intention (let it heal alone), with skin grafts, sutures, and so on. It is usually performed under local anesthesia.
  • Conventional surgery (excision or surgical resection): total or partial with an adequate margin of safety.
  • Curettage: using an instrument called a curette, will scraping the tumor to remove it in its entirety. This curette may be electrical, allowing better bleeding control due to heat effect.
  • Radiation therapy: is to treat the injury with devices that emit radiation to kill the tumor cells (linear accelerators, cobalt bombs, etc.).
  • Cryotherapy: just like you do with common warts, liquid nitrogen is applied to the exposed injury and freezes tissue. This produces a crust that falls off after a few days. It is the most commonly used treatment, because it requires very bulky facilities, ambulatory, no surgery, no bleeding, and can indicate in almost all patients (including those with clotting problems).
  • Topical treatments (creams): As radiotherapy kills tumor cells in which it is applied.
After treatment, it is important to carry out routine checks for early detection of new lesions, or whether a recurrence of treated lesions occurs. These reviews performed by the doctor (either GP or dermatologist), but the "self-review" weekly or monthly by the patient is a must.

Skin Cancer Prevention
Skin cancer can be prevented by avoiding or reducing sun exposure:
  • In the middle of the day (as the sun shines more).
  • Use creams with an appropriate protection factor and applying the product as often as necessary. Remember to leaving it for at least 30 minutes, since the effect of sunscreen is usually not immediate.
  • Use large caps or hats and long-sleeved shirts and long pants when we are outdoors.
  • Use sunscreen also when you go to do sports outdoors.
  • Avoid the use of tanning treatments (UVA, etc.).
  • If you notice any kind of unusual spots on your body go to your doctor and conduct periodic evaluations to detect abnormalities in the skin. You can use a small mirror to the most difficult areas to see. An early diagnosis can satisfactorily address nine out of ten skin cancers.
Of course, it is very important to follow all instructions of the physician, both in terms of prevention and monitoring and diagnosis of such diseases.

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