Skin cancer is a very common cancer that can be caused by overexposure to the sun. But how to recognize it and how is it treated?
What is skin cancer?
There are two types of skin cancer. The most commonly diagnosed form is non-melanoma category cancer. However, melanoma is the most serious form.
– non-melanomas: This type of cancer rarely causes death, so it is not mentioned often enough. The two most common forms of non-melanoma are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. They usually occur in people over 50 years old.
Basal cell carcinoma alone accounts for 90% of all skin cancers and is usually diagnosed after 50 years. This cancer is formed in the deepest layer of the epidermis and causes an injury of a few millimeters in diameter flesh or pink that does not heal and does not disappear. It often touches the face.
Finally, squamous cell carcinoma, which is more likely to occur after the age of 60, develops in more superficial layers of the epidermis. It is able to generate metastases although this remains rare.
– Melanomas: Melanoma, sometimes called malignant, is an uncommon but serious cancer. It is formed in the melanocytes, that is to say, the cells that generate melanin, the pigment found in the skin and eyes. Melanoma can occur at any age and can progress rapidly. It can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed early. Currently, it is responsible for 75% of deaths caused by skin cancer.
Causes: What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
The main factor promoting the occurrence of skin cancer is overexposure to the UV rays of the sun. The risks are more increased when exposures are prolonged, intense, and especially in people with fair skin. Then comes exposure to artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation, that is to say, the solar lamps of tanning salons.
It is important to note that exposure to UV radiation has cumulative effects. In fact, the damage to the skin begins at a young age, and even if it is not visible or felt, it is amplified over the course of its existence.
Non-melanomas is usually caused by frequent and continuous exposure to the sun, while melanomas are the result of short, but intense exposure to the sun, those that cause sunburn. The type of skin and the presence of moles may be linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Symptoms: how to detect skin cancer?
Most skin cancers do not show symptoms. They are recognized rather by the appearance of spots on the level of the skin but the different types of cancer do not have all the same characteristics:
– Basal cell carcinoma: it is characterized by a small flesh-colored or pinkish swelling, with a waxy or “pearled” appearance. It usually appears on exposed areas: on the face, ears or neck. There may also be an ulcer, which does not heal, and a pink, smooth plaque on the chest or back.
– Squamous cell carcinoma: it resembles a pinkish or whitish skin plaque, a rough, scaly lesion (actinic keratosis) on the surface of the skin exposed to the sun. There is also a pink or clear, verrucous nodule, and an ulcer that does not heal.
– Melanoma: the signs will depend on how cancer has developed. When it concerns a cutaneous zone without “anomaly”, it manifests itself by the appearance of a flat spot, most often brown (more rarely red-pink), which will change rapidly by changing shape, aspect and of color.