Skin cancer – abnormal growth of skin cells – is caused by exposure to the sun in most cases. However, this common form of cancer can also occur in some areas of your skin that are not usually exposed to sunlight.
There are 3 types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Examining your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at an early stage. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the maximum chance of successful skin cancer treatment.
When there is a defect (mutation) in the DNA of skin cells, skin cancer occurs. Mutations cause cells to go out of control and create a huge size of cancer cells.
The cells are involved in skin cancer
Skin cancer starts from the top layer of your skin – the epidermis. The epidermis is a thin layer that provides a protective cover for skin cells that keep your body moving regularly. There are three types of cells in the epidermis:
The squamous cells are located just below the outer surface and act as the inner lining of the skin.
The basal cells, which make up the new skin cells, sit beneath the squamous cells.
Melanocytes – which produce melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its normal color – are located in the lower part of your epidermis. Melanocytes produce more melanin when you are in the sun to help protect the deeper layers of your skin.
Where skin cancer develops
Skin cancer mainly develops in areas of the skin outside the sun, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands and feet of women. However, it can also be formed in areas that rarely see daylight – the palms of your hands, under your fingernails, and your genitals.
Skin cancer further affects people with a skin tone that includes dark complications. When people with darker skin tones develop melanoma, it is usually in areas that are not exposed to the sun, such as the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet.
Basal cell carcinoma signs and symptoms
Basal cell carcinoma normally occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body such as your neck or face.
Basal cell carcinoma may appear as:
A pearl or wax peg
Wounds like a flat, flesh-colored or brown spot
Bleeding or scabbing wounds that heal and come back
Signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma
In most cases squamous cell carcinoma occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body such as your face, ears, and hands. People with oily skin are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma in areas that are not often exposed to the sun.
Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as:
A firm, red nodule
A flat wound with a rough, notched surface
Signs and symptoms of melanoma
Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body, otherwise, it develops into normal skin or existing moles or cancer. Melanoma is most often present on the face or stems of infected men. In women, this type of cancer often develops in the lower legs. In both women and men, melanoma can occur on skin that has not been exposed to the sun.
Melanoma can affect people with any skin tone. Melanoma occurs in people with toned skin, on the palms or soles of the feet or under the nails or the toenails.
Symptoms of melanoma include:
A large brown spot with dark spots
A mole that changes color, size or feels or bleeds
An irregular border and a small lesion that appears red, pink, white, blue or blue-black
A painful wound that is itchy or burning
Wounds on the palms, soles, fingers or toes of your hands or the mucous membranes lined your mouth, nose, vagina or rectum
Signs and symptoms of less common skin cancer
Other less common types of skin cancer include:
Kaposi sarcoma. This rare form of skin cancer develops in the blood vessels of the skin and causes red or purple patches or mucous membranes on the skin.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is mainly seen in people with weakened immune systems, such as people with AIDS and drug users who suppress their natural immunity, such as people who have had organ transplants.
Other people at risk for Kaposi sarcoma include young people living in Africa or older men with Italian or Eastern European Jewish heritage.
Merkel cell carcinoma. Merkel cell carcinoma forms firm, shiny nodules that occur under the skin or in the hair follicles. Merkel cell carcinoma is most often found on the neck, head, and trunk.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma. This abnormal and invasive cancer originates in the oil glands of the skin. Sebaceous gland carcinomas – which usually appear as hard, painless nodules – can develop anywhere but are most often seen on the eyelids, where they are often mistaken for other eyelid problems.
Among the factors that can increase the risk of skin cancer are:
Fair skin Anyone regardless of skin color can get skin cancer. However, having less pigment (melanin) on your skin provides less protection from the harmful effects of UV radiation. If you have blonde or red hair and light-colored eyes and you are easily shaken or sunburned, your skin is much more likely to get skin cancer than dark.
Sunburn History One or more blisters as a child or adolescent increase your risk of skin cancer as an adult. Sunburn in youth is also a risk factor.
Excessive sun exposure. Anyone who spends a lot of time in the sun can get skin cancer especially if the skin is not protected by sunscreen or clothing. Tanning with contact with tanning lamps and beds puts you at risk. A tan is your skin’s response to injury from excess UV radiation.
Sunny or high-altitude climate. People who live in sunny, warm climates are more exposed to sunlight than people who live in cold climates. Living at a higher altitude, where sunlight is most powerful exposes you to more radiation.
Size. People who have many moles or abnormal moles called dysplastic navy to increase the risk of skin cancer. These abnormal moles – which look irregular and are usually larger than normal moles – are more likely to cause cancer than others. If you have a history of unusual moles, check them regularly for changes.
Natural Conjunctivitis Skin Wounds Skin lesions known as actinic keratoses can increase your risk of skin cancer. These natural skin growths usually appear as rough, rough patches that range in color from brown to dark pink. These are most common on the face, head, and hands of people with fair skin, whose skin has been damaged by the sun.
Family history of skin cancer. If one of your parents or siblings has skin cancer, your risk of this disease may increase.
A personal history of skin cancer. Once you develop it if you are at risk of developing it again.
A weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. This includes people living with HIV / AIDS and those who use immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplants.
Radiation exposure. People receiving radiation treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and acne may have an increased risk of skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma.
Exposure to certain substances. Exposure to certain substances such as arsenic can increase your risk of skin cancer.