05/12/2022
Skin Tumors

5 types of skin cancer: How to identify and what to do – 2022

skin cancer

5 types of skin cancer: How to identify and what to do

There are several types of skin cancer and the main ones are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, in addition to other less common types such as Merkel’s carcinoma and skin sarcomas.

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5 types of skin cancer: How to identify and what to do

There are several types of skin cancer and the main ones are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, in addition to other less common types such as Merkel’s carcinoma and skin sarcomas.

These cancers are caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of different types of cells that make up the layers of the skin and can be divided into different categories, which include:

There are several types of skin cancer and the main ones are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, in addition to other less common types such as Merkel’s carcinoma and skin sarcomas.

These cancers are caused by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of different types of cells that make up the layers of the skin and can be divided into different categories, which include:

  • Non-melanoma skin cancer: where basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas or Merkel’s carcinoma are included, which are generally easier to treat, with greater chances of cure;
  • Melanoma skin cancer: includes only malignant melanoma, which is the most dangerous type and has a lower chance of cure, especially if identified at a very advanced stage;
  • Skin sarcomas: includes Kaposi’s sarcoma and dermatofibrosarcoma that can appear in various parts of the body and require specific treatment according to the type.

When a suspicious sign appears on the skin, which changes color, shape or increases in size, you should consult a dermatologist to check for malignancy and what to do in each case.

1. Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the least serious and the most frequent type of non-melanoma cancer, corresponding to more than 95% of cases, and arises in the basal cells that are located in the deepest layer of the skin, appearing as a bright pink spot on the skin that it grows slowly, may have a crust in the center of the spot and may bleed easily. This type of cancer is more common in fair-skinned people after the age of 40, due to lifelong exposure to the sun.

Where it can appear: it almost always appears in regions with a lot of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, ears or scalp, but it can also appear in other parts of the body.

What to do: in case of suspicion, consult a dermatologist to evaluate the stain on the skin and start the appropriate treatment, which, in these cases, is done with a small surgery or laser application to remove the stain and eliminate all the affected cells.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer and arises in squamous cells located in the most superficial layers of the skin. This type of cancer is more common in men, although it can also develop in women of any age, especially in people with light skin, eyes and hair because they have less melanin, which is the skin pigment that protects against ultraviolet radiation.

This type of cancer appears in the form of a reddened lump on the skin or a bruise that flakes off and forms a scab, or wart-like appearance.

Sun exposure is the main factor that causes squamous cell carcinoma, but it can also happen in those who undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments or have chronic skin problems, such as wounds that do not heal. Generally, people who are diagnosed with an actinic keratosis patch, and who do not take the treatment indicated by the doctor, also have a high chance of developing this type of skin cancer.

Where it can appear: It can appear anywhere on the body but is more common in areas exposed to the sun, such as the scalp, hands, ears, lips or neck, which show signs of sun damage such as loss of elasticity, wrinkling or change in color of the skin. skin.

What to do: as with other types, it is important to consult a dermatologist to confirm the type of stain and start the treatment, which, in these cases, is initially done with a small surgery or other technique, such as applying cold, to remove most of the stain. of the altered cells. After that, if necessary, radiotherapy can still be done, for example, to remove the remaining cells.

3. Merkel’s Carcinoma

Merkel cell carcinoma is a rarer type of non-melanoma cancer being more common in older people due to lifelong prolonged exposure to the sun or people with weaker immune systems.

This type of cancer usually appears as a painless, skin-colored or bluish-red lump on the face, head, or neck and tends to grow and spread quickly to other parts of the body.

Where it can appear: It can appear on the face, head or neck, but it can also develop on any part of the body, even in areas not exposed to sunlight.

What to do: You should consult a dermatologist if a spot, freckle or lump appears that changes size, shape or color, grows quickly or bleeds easily after a minor trauma, such as washing the skin or shaving, for example. The dermatologist must evaluate the skin and initiate the appropriate treatment, which, in these cases, can be done with surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy.

4. Malignant melanoma

Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous type of cancer of all and usually appears as a dark mole that deforms over time. It can be fatal if not identified early, as it can develop quickly and reach other organs such as the lung.

Where it can appear: It often develops in areas exposed to the sun such as the face, shoulders, scalp or ears, especially in people with very fair skin.

What to do: Since this type of cancer is more likely to be cured when treatment is started at an early stage, it is important that dark spots that grow over time and have an irregular shape are quickly evaluated by a dermatologist. In most cases, treatment starts with surgery to remove most of the cells, and after that, radiation or chemotherapy is usually needed to eliminate the cells that are still in the skin.

5. Skin Sarcomas

Skin sarcomas, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma or dermatofibrosarcoma, are a type of malignant skin cancer that affects the deeper layers of the skin.

Dermatofibrosarcoma can arise spontaneously after some trauma, in a surgical or burn scar, by infection with the herpes virus type 8 (HHV8) or by genetic alterations. It is usually more common in young men, but it can also occur in women at any age and appears as a reddish or purple patch on the skin and can look like a pimple, scar, or birthmark, especially in the trunk of the body. In more advanced stages, sores may form at the site of the tumor, bleeding or necrosis of the affected skin.

Kaposi’s sarcoma is more common in people with a weakened immune system, such as people who have had some type of transplant or who have HIV infection or herpes virus type 8. This type of tumor appears as purplish-red spots on the skin and can affect the whole body.

Where it can appear: more common to appear in the trunk, head, neck, legs, arms and in rare cases in the genital region.

What to do: you should consult the dermatologist if the red spot appears on the skin for a more adequate diagnosis. This type of tumor is aggressive, can spread to other parts of the body, and must be treated with surgery, radiation, or molecular therapy. In addition, people with HIV infection should have frequent medical follow-up and take medication to control the infection.

 

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