Skin Cancer | Causes, Symptoms, Types, and Treatment

Originally posted on September 21, 2022 @ 7:16 am

The skin that has been exposed to the sun is where skin cancer, or abnormal skin cell growth, most frequently occurs. But this typical form of cancer can also develop on parts of your skin that aren’t usually exposed to sunlight.

The most typical cancer is skin cancer. When skin cells grow in an uncontrolled manner, it happens. Physicians also determine the type of skin cancer from the cells.

What is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled expansion of aberrant cells in the epidermis, the topmost layer of skin, brought on by unrepaired DNA damage that causes mutations. These mutations cause the skin cells to grow out of control and become cancerous tumors. Merkel cell carcinoma, melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma are the four main kinds of skin cancer (MCC).

Understanding the various types of skin cancer and how they affect the body is the best way to comprehend it.

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

They are three major types of skin cancer and the are are as follows

Cancer of the basal cell: The skin cells known as basal cells, which are the skin cells that replace older cells in the lower epidermis, are where basal cell carcinoma starts. The surface of the skin is where this type of skin cancer typically manifests.

Basal cell carcinoma typically doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. When it does, it may, in exceptional circumstances, be fatal. Basal cell cancers make up about 80% of all skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

2-Squamous-cell carcinoma: The cells on the epidermis’s outermost layer are impacted by squamous cell cancer.

Squamous cells are also present in the lungs and mucous membranes, among other places. Squamous cell cancer that develops in the skin is referred to as cutaneous squamous cell cancer.

The body parts that are frequently exposed to ultraviolet (UV) sunlight tend to develop this type of cancer the most frequently. Although the condition is very treatable, if left untreated, it could be fatal. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most prevalent type of skin cancer.

Every year, doctors diagnose an estimated 5.4 million Trusted Source cases of basal and squamous cell cancer, according to the ACS. They tend to form on parts of your body that are exposed to the sun the most, such as your head and neck.

3-Melanoma:  Melanoma, which makes up about 1 percent of all skin cancers, is another subtype of the disease. The cells that give color to your skin are where this type of cancer grows. The term “melanocytes” refers to these cells. Melanocytes create benign moles, but they have the potential to develop into malignant ones.

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Anywhere in your body can experience melanoma growth. In men, they are more prevalent on the chest and back, while in women, they are more prevalent on the legs.

When discovered early, most melanomas are curable. However, if you don’t get treatment, they might spread to other areas of your body and get more difficult to treat. Melanomas also have a higher propensity to spread than basal and squamous cell skin cancers.

melanoma of the skin: Merkel cell hyperplasia is a rare type of skin cancer brought on by an overabundance of Merkel cells. Merkel cells are a particular type of cell found in the epidermis, according to a 2019 review by Trusted Source.

Approximately 1,500 cases of Merkel cell cancer are reported annually in the United States, according to a review from 2021. It seems to affect men and white people more frequently than women. Despite being rare, it is extremely dangerous because it can easily spread to other body parts.

Skin cancer lymphoma: White blood cells, which are a component of the immune system, help the body fight off illness and infection. They are also referred to as lymphocytes. Skin lymphomas are characterized by the abnormal growth of skin cells. According to the ACS Trusted Source, this is also referred to as a cutaneous lymphoma.

Kaposi’s sarcoma: On the skin, Kaposi sarcoma (KS) manifests as tumors or red, brown, or purple patches. These locations are also referred to as lesions Trusted Source.

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KS lesions commonly manifest themselves on the face, feet, or legs. Additionally, the mouth, lymph nodes, and genital region can all develop lesions. You might not notice any symptoms as long as they are still visible on the surface.

The throat or stomach are just two internal organs where KS lesions can spread. They can cause bleeding and turn life-threatening when they do this.

Actin keratosis: Small areas of red, pink, or brown skin are frequently present in these. Although they are a type of preconcert, they are not cancerous. Squamous cell carcinoma could develop from these skin lesions if they are not treated.

Symptoms Of  Skin Cancer

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Skin cancers are not all the same, and they may not exhibit many symptoms at first. However, uncharacteristic changes in your skin may be a sign of various cancers. You might receive a diagnosis earlier if you keep an eye out for changes in your skin.

Be alert for the following skin cancer warning signs:

  • Skin Blemishes: A new mole, unusual growth, bump, sore, scaly patch, dark spot, or other change appears but doesn’t go away.
  • Asymmetry: A lesion or mole’s two halves are not the same.
  • Border: Lesions have rough, irregular edges.
  • Color: The color of a spot is unusual, such as white, pink, black, blue, or red. Additionally, a lesion may contain several different colors.
  • Diameter: The size is greater than a quarter of an inch, or roughly the size of a pencil eraser.
  • Evolving: The mole can be identified if it changes in any way, including size, shape, color, or by experiencing symptoms like itching, pain, or bleeding.

If you suspect a spot on your skin may be skin cancer, it’s best to be aware of all the potential warning signs.

Causes And Risk factors of Skin Cancer

When mutations form in the DNA of your skin cells, skin cancer results. Skin cells that have undergone these mutations grow uncontrollably and aggregate to form cancerous tumors.

Skin cancer has numerous unknown causes. Most moles do not develop into melanomas, and it is unknown why some do. Risk factors, however, might put you at an increased risk of getting skin cancers like melanoma.

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Exposure to UV Light

UV exposure is a significant risk factor for many types of skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source. Among the sources of UV light exposure are:

  • The Sun.
  • Tanners’ booths
  • Sun rays

Skin cells are harmed by UV rays. Skin cancer appears when cell growth is out of control due to damage.


Moles are not always a sign of skin cancer, as was previously stated. However, if you have a lot of them, they are more likely to progress to melanoma.

Freckles, light hair, and fair skin

Skin cancer is more common in those with lighter skin, especially those who have:

  • Red or blonde hair that is natural
  • the color of your eyes
  • In the sun, light skin that is prone to burning or developing freckles quickly

Skin Cancer in the Family

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

According to Cancer Research UK, your risk increases if your parents, siblings, or children are diagnosed with melanoma. This may be caused by a shared lifestyle of sun exposure, the fact that everyone in the family has light skin, or changes in the family’s genetic makeup, according to a 2015 study Trusted Source.

Experts advise the following if you do have a family history of skin cancer:

  1. once a month, perform self-skin checks.
  2. For routine skin checks, visit your dermatologist.
  3. Put using sunscreen and other types of sun protection first.
  4. Stay away from sunlamps and tanning beds.
  5. skin cancer in the past

The likelihood that you will develop skin cancer once more is higher if you have already had it.

According to a 2018 study of 969 skin cancer patients, 17 percent of them (especially older adults) went on to develop recurrent skin cancer. The worrying statistic emphasizes how crucial it is to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis so they can carefully watch for any recurrence.

The subsequent case of skin cancer might even be of a different type. You are more likely to develop melanoma, for instance, if you have had squamous cell skin cancer.

Weakened Immune System

You are more likely to develop skin cancer if other illnesses or medical procedures weaken your immune system.

If you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Go through chemotherapy
  • Use specific medications
  • Possess an autoimmune disease that impairs immunity

Aged more

Even though it can occur in children and young adults, the majority of cases of skin cancer occur in people over the age of 30.

Treatments Of Skin Cancer

Your recommended course of treatment will be based on a variety of variables. One of these is cancer. Size, Location, Types, Stages

Your medical team may suggest one or more of the following therapies after taking these variables into account:

  • Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the growth, and as the tissue thaws, it is destroyed.
  • Excisional procedure: A portion of healthy skin surrounding the growth is removed by the doctor.
  • Mosh surgery: During this process, the growth is exfoliated layer by layer. Until no irregular cells are visible, each layer is inspected under a microscope.
  • Electrodessication as well as curettage: Cancerous cells are scraped away with a long blade shaped like a spoon, and any remaining cells are then burned by an electric needle.
  • Chemotherapy: To eliminate the cancer cells, this treatment can be administered topically, intravenously (IV), or orally.
  • Therapeutic use of light: Cancer cells are destroyed by laser light and medications.
  • Radiation:  Powerful energy beams destroy cancer cells.
  • Biology-based treatment: In order to combat cancer cells, biological treatments activate your immune system.
  • Immunotherapy: Medications are used to stimulate your immune system so that it can destroy the cancer cells.

Checks for Skin Cancer on Yourself Using This Following Method

Some skin cancer symptoms can be recognized without medical training. You only need a mirror and a strategy for checking yourself at least once a month.

It’s best to use a full-length mirror and perform the task in a well-lit area for the best results. A handheld mirror is perfect for those difficult-to-see areas. Additionally, enlisting the aid of a family member will guarantee that no detail is overlooked.

Take your time and pay close attention to any mole patterns, freckles, or other skin imperfections. With each subsequent monthly check, assess them for any changes. Bleeding and slow-healing sores can be changes. Tell your doctor if you notice anything that concerns you.

To ensure that you don’t overlook a spot, the ACS Trusted Source advises that you take the following actions:

1-Check the following while looking in the mirror:

  • Face
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Chest
  • Stomach
  • Breasts

2-Then turn to your arms and:

  • Lift to examine the armpits
  • The palms and the tops of your hands.
  • Take a look at the finger and nail beds.

3-Observe while seated:

  • Front, back, and thighs
  • Front, back, and shins
  • The top and bottom of the feet
  • Feet and nails

4-Look at the following with a hand mirror:

  • Buttocks
  • The genitalia
  • Upper back and lower back
  • Head’s back and ears

Lastly, check your scalp with a comb.

Stages Of Skin Cancer

Your doctor will take into account the following when determining the stage or seriousness of a skin cancer:

  • What the tumor’s size is
  • If your lymph nodes have become involved
  • If it has spread to different body regions

According to Stanford Health Care, there are two main classifications of skin cancers used for staging. Skin cancers that are not melanoma and melanoma are these.

Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers are no melanoma skin cancers.

  • Stage 0. Beyond the epidermis, the top layer of skin, the cancer cells have not proliferated.
  • Stage 1. Even though the cancer may have reached the dermis, the next layer of skin, it is still only 2 centimeters long.
  • Stage 2. The tumor is over 2 centimeters in size, but it has not spread to lymph nodes or nearby tissues.
  • Stage 3. It is larger than 3 centimeters in size and the cancer has spread from the primary tumor to nearby bone or tissue. Furthermore, it usually hasn’t spread to distant parts of the body.
  • Stage 4. Beyond the original tumor site, the cancer has entered lymph nodes, bone, or other tissues. The tumor may have spread to distant sites and is bigger than 3 centimeters.

The American Joint Committee on Cancer’s TNM staging system is typically used to classify melanoma. The stage is determined by this system’s use of the tumor’s thickness and depth (T), lymph node spread (N), and metastasis, or cancer spread, (M). It is earlier in the stage if the number is lower. It is possible to determine the overall stage once the TNM categories have been established.

Melanoma in situ, or the initial stage of the disease, is 0. Then, using capital letters, they divide into stages 1 through 4, progressing from there. The stages help your doctors decide what kind of care is best for you even though everyone’s experience will be unique.

Stages of melanoma generally include:

  • Stage 0. The epidermis has not been penetrated by this noninvasive type of skin cancer.
  • Stage 1. Even though the cancer may have reached the dermis, the second layer of skin, it is still only a small amount.
  • Stage 2. Despite being larger, thicker, and possibly showing additional symptoms, the cancer has not spread past the original tumor site. These consist of flaking, bleeding, or scaling.
  • Stage 3. Your lymph nodes or nearby skin or tissue have been affected by the cancer’s metastasis or spread.
  • Stage 4. The most advanced melanoma stage is this one. Stage 4 cancer is a sign that the disease has progressed past the initial tumor and is now present in lymph nodes, organs, or tissues that are distant from the initial site.

When to Consult a Doctor

It is best to schedule a visit with your doctor as soon as you notice any suspicious skin growths or spots, or if they change. In order to diagnose you, they will either examine your skin or recommend a specialist.

They will probably check the size, color, texture, and shape of the suspicious area on your skin. Additionally, they will look for any scaling, bleeding, or dry patches.

Your doctor might take a biopsy if they have a suspicion that it’s cancerous. They will either remove the suspicious area entirely during this secure and straightforward procedure or send a sample to a lab for testing.

You might need additional tests if skin cancer is diagnosed in order to find out how far along it is. The kind and stage of your skin cancer, as well as other criteria, will determine the recommended course of therapy for you.

Types Of Doctor Who Treat Skin Cancer

Your doctor might put together a team of experts if skin cancer is the diagnosis to help with various aspects of your condition. Your team might have some of the following on it, as an illustration:

  • a dermatologist who handles skin conditions
  • an oncologist who uses chemotherapy, targeted treatment, immunotherapy, or other drugs to treat cancer
  • a cancer surgeon known as a surgical oncologist
  • an expert in radiation therapy known as a radiation oncologist

Additional healthcare specialists who could assist you include:

  • nurses
  • nurses in practice
  • a medical assistant
  • social workers
  • specialists in nutrition

Prevention Of Skin Cancer

Avoid subjecting your skin to prolonged exposure to sunlight and other UV radiation sources to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Consider this:

  • Steer clear of sunlamps and tanning beds.
  • When the sun is at its heaviest, starting at 10 a.m., avoid direct sun exposure. by staying inside or in the shade between noon and four o’clock.
  • At least 30 minutes before going outside, cover any exposed skin with sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher, and reapply as necessary.
  • When you’re outside during the day, put on a wide-brimmed hat and dry, dark, closely woven clothing.
  • Put on sunglasses that completely block ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.

Additionally, it’s crucial to routinely check your skin for modifications like new growths or patches. If you see anything strange, tell your doctor.

If you get skin cancer, early detection and treatment can help you have a better prognosis in the long run.

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Side Effect of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer may have the following side effects:

  • Recurrence, or the return of cancer
  • local recurrence, in which cancer cells invade nearby tissues
  • metastasis, in which cancer cells invade muscles, nerves, or other bodily organs

If you’ve had skin cancer before, your risk of getting it somewhere else is increased. The type, location, and size of the cancer, your health, and your prior skin cancer treatment history will all affect your treatment options if it returns.

The future for skin cancer survivorship is highly positive as medical science continues to develop and as doctors gain more knowledge about skin cancers.

The individual and the type of skin cancer both affect the prognosis.


According to the ACS, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma patients ranges from 30 to 99 percent Trusted Source, depending on the stage. The 5-year survival rate is significantly greater in earlier phases. 93 percent represents the overall rate.

Squamous cell and basal cell

2,000 people are believed to pass away from basal and squamous cell carcinoma per year Trusted Source. But with each year that goes by, that number keeps declining.

what is skin cancer
what is skin cancer

Mueller cell

Merkel cell carcinoma has a cumulative 5-year survival rate of 64%Trusted Source, with rates varied depending on stage, according to the ACS.

Skin lymphoma.

Since lymphoma’s prognosis is based on the type, stage, and effectiveness of the disease, there is no definitive survival rate. So, the key to assessing one’s prognosis is early discovery.

Kaposi’s sarcoma

According to Trusted Source, the 5-year survival rate for all stages of KS is 74%, with stage-specific rates variable.


Although skin cancer is frequent, it is nonetheless deadly. Early detection is essential, and knowing what to look for to locate it might assist. Your outlook will improve and your therapy will work better if you can identify any skin cancer warning signals.

The best course of action is to perform your own skin check once per month or see a dermatologist if your doctor doesn’t include skin inspections as part of your regular health checkups. To be sure, it is better to consult your doctor if something doesn’t feel right or if you have any doubts.

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