Currently, skin cancer is one of the most significant oncological problems. What is skin cancer? Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that develops on the surface (epithelial) skin tissue. This form of tumors is more common in people 50-70 years old, about equally in men and women. The tumor can be located on any parts of the body, but the primary localization is the scalp and neck (70%), upper and lower extremities (12%).
Causes and risk factors for skin cancer
There are quite a number of reasons causing the formation of lesions on the skin, but oncologists identify the following ones:
- Effects on the upper layers of the skin of various substances having a carcinogenic effect. These include most often tar, tobacco smoke, arsenic, any heavy metals;
- Irrational approach to nutrition, the prevalence of food products containing nitrates and nitrites;
- Danger is represented by all kinds of smoked products, fried foods, as well as canned food and pickles;
- Radioactive and thermal radiation;
- Any mechanical injury moles. This can be cut by careless shaving or scratching;
- Radiation dermatitis. Then skin cancer is a complication of the disease;
- Burn any degree;
- Exposure to ultraviolet rays on unprotected skin layers;
- Tattooing on both intact skin areas and those with birthmarks or freckles. This is due not only to the injury of the upper layers of the epidermis, but also to the presence of carcinogenic substances in the paint, in particular arsenic, aluminum, nickel or titanium;
- Hereditary factors (cancer that occurs in family members);
- Excessively light skin, in which there is a clear lack of melanin;
- Retirement age. So, this type of cancer often affects people who have stepped over the 60 – year mark, regardless of gender;
- People genetically predisposed to the formation of any types of tumors;
- The presence in the body of human immunodeficiency virus or hepatitis;
- Cutaneous horn. This formation is typical for people of old age who spent a lot of time under the influence of ultraviolet rays;
- Abuse of alcoholic beverages and even more long-term smoking;
- Keratoma senile;
- Bowen’s disease. It is also a kind of cancer, but it does not penetrate deep into the tissues;
- The presence of nevi. Most often, these formations are benign, but under the influence of a number of factors are able to be reborn;
- Any chronic skin diseases;
- Work in the open air, for example, fishermen or villagers engaged in agrarian laboк have skin cancer much more common than people of other professions;
- Living in the southern regions of the country.
Types of skin cancer
Since the skin consists of cells that belong to a large number of tissues, there are significant differences in the tumors that affect them. Therefore, the concept of cancer, in this case, is very collective in nature and defines all pathologies of a malignant nature.
However, experts identify the most common types of skin cancer, which include basiloma, melanoma, squamous cell, lymphoma, carcinoma, and Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Squamous сell сarcinoma
This kind of pathological process on the skin has several synonyms; it can also be called squamous epithelioma or spinalioma. It is found regardless of the part of the body and can be located anywhere. But open parts of the body, as well as the lower lip, are most susceptible to this lesion. Sometimes doctors find squamous cell carcinoma localized to the genitals.
This tumor is not selective for people by gender, but as regards age, retired people are more likely to suffer. What are the reasons provoking its appearance? Experts point to the scarring of tissues after burns or mechanical damage, which are systematic. Also, actinic keratosis, chronic dermatitis of the chronic lichen, lupus tuberculosis and other diseases can provoke the appearance of squamous cell carcinoma.
This type of cancer is a nodular formation, which can be either single or multiple. As it develops, it becomes less mobile and more painful, it begins to bleed even from a light touch, especially with regard to the warty variety.
When the disease is caused by the presence of papillomavirus in the body, then it is characterized by active growth and shape, in its structure resembling a tomato. Ulcers appear half a year after the formation of a tumor.
The ulcerative type of squamous cell carcinoma is characterized by similar formations that have irregularly shaped clear boundaries. A distinctive feature is the growth of cancer not in the depth of the tissue, but an increase in size along the periphery. Its color is red, and a yellowish tinge is detected on the surface.
Basal cell carcinoma
This type of cancer has synonyms: basal cell carcinoma or basal epithelioma. It occurs quite often, is prone to relapse, but in most cases does not give metastasis.
As the main causes of this type of cancer, scientists identify hereditary factors due to genetic predisposition, as well as disruptions in immunity. Often, you can meet the opinion that the basal area is developing against the background of exposure to carcinogens or insolation. At the same time, skin changes may not be present or may be observed. For example, this applies to lesions such as psoriasis, nevi, lupus erythematosus and other pathologies. Ultraviolet radiation is another provoking factor in the growth of basal cell carcinoma, as well as thermal burns and the reception of arsenic. Formations of this type are often found in those people who were in the sun for a long time in their childhood.
Basalioma often grows relatively slowly, occurs in the epidermis or on the scalp, in their follicles. Doctors consider this pathology from the point of view of a peculiar tumor, and not as a cancer or a benign tumor.
Formations can be both single and multiple, have a round shape from pink to dark red and are somewhat elevated above the skin. There are several forms of basalioma: superficial, pigmentary, tumor, ulcerative, scar-atrophic and fibroepithelial.
More often, basaliomas are subject to people who have crossed the threshold of 40 years, regardless of gender. In adolescents and young children, such neoplasms practically do not occur, the exception may be its congenital form, which is called Gorlin-Goltz syndrome.
Cell skin carcinoma
Cell skin cancer is one of the synonyms of basal cell carcinoma. Therefore, it proceeds according to the same type as the above-described disease. It is worth noting that, despite the rather rare metastasis, this variety can still give “germs”. In such cases, the survival prognosis is extremely low and people suffering from metastatic cell cancer live no more than a year.
Signs of skin cancer
Before the appearance and development of skin cancer, so-called “pretumor states” are always observed. These include:
- nonhealing skin ulcers;
- inflammatory processes;
- benign skin tumors (papillomas, warts);
- skin diseases (eczema, psoriasis, versicolor, etc.);
- scars after burns, wounds, frostbites;
- postoperative swine.
- the appearance of a small painless nodule or speck that rises slightly above the skin surface, has a yellowish, brown, dull-white color and a dense texture.
- over time, the tumor grows in size and takes a form of a dense plaque slightly rising above the skin. Its surface is smooth or rough, the edges protrude in the form of a dense roller.
- in the future, erosion/sore appears in the center of the hearth, covered with a crust.
- if untreated, the tumor invades the surrounding tissue, becomes immobile.
- less commonly, the tumor has the appearance of a dense, towering above the surface, easily bleeding node on a broad base resembling a cauliflower, covered with crusts.
Diagnosis of the disease
The diagnosis of skin cancer is made on the basis of the patient’s complaints (the presence of an ulcer, tumor formation), the clinical picture of the disease. In this case, two types of research are carried out:
- diagnostic tumor scraping for cytology;
- idiopathic biopsy, i.e. taking a piece of tumor (under local anesthesia) for histological examination.
Skin cancer treatment
Features of skin cancer treatment depend on the characteristics of the lesion, its stage, type, condition of the patient.
- Cryodestruction (freezing). Pre-cancerous lesions and skin cancer in the early stages can be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen;
- Surgical removal of cancerous tissue and surrounding small areas of healthy skin;
- Laser therapy. Using a laser destroys tumors with little damage to surrounding tissue, with minimal bleeding and swelling. It is used to treat superficial types of skin cancer;
- Radiation therapy. Radiation aimed at the destruction of cancer cells. It is used when it is impossible to carry out the operation;
- Chemotherapy. The use of drugs for the destruction of cancer cells. There are special creams and lotions containing anti-cancer agents;
- Photodynamic therapy. The use of special preparations – photosensitizers – and light exposure;
- Biological therapy. Stimulating the immune system to kill cancer cells.
Patients with early stages of the disease (1-2) are cured in 80-100% of cases.
Prevention and protection measures
Key preventive measures for skin cancer include:
- Sun protection is the best way to prevent skin cancer. This can be achieved in several ways: avoid long-term exposure to direct sunlight (ultraviolet radiation) on the skin using clothes, – face and neck well protect wide-brimmed hats; by means of sunscreens – it is an effective means of protecting exposed skin (face, neck, hands); avoid the midday sun, especially at sea, in tropical and subtropical countries;
- Strict observance of hygiene when working with occupational hazards;
- Timely and radical cure of inflammatory skin processes ulcers, fistulas, prevention of chronic injuries of hems;
- Removal of warts, papillomas, other benign lesions on the skin;
- Treatment of precancerous skin diseases;
- Immediate visit to a doctor when signs of pathology appear on the part of the skin.
Compliance with the above recommendations and oncological vigilance to the changes on the skin will allow you to maintain health for many years.