Skin cancer is characterized by uncontrolled and abnormal divisions of the skin cells, that are capable of metastasizing to other tissues and organs. This cancer affects millions of people all over the world.
There are three basic types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma – This is the most common type of skin cancer, and is not life threatening in nature. This is often found on the neck and face in the form of a sore. They do not spread to any other locations in the body.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – This form of skin cancer has its origin in the squamous cells found in the surface of the skin and the lining of respiratory and digestive organs.
- Melanoma – This is the most serious form of skin cancer, but is rare in occurrence. This refers to the uncontrolled division of the melanocytes found in different parts of the body, like the skin, eyes, mouth, and gut. It is found more commonly among adults, and is very aggressive, as the cells can metastasize to other locations.
The symptoms of skin cancer depend on the type. Basal carcinoma is usually found in the areas of skin that are exposed to the sun. It starts as a small bump that is waxy in appearance, and is covered by small blood vessels on the surface. It often looks like a light-colored mole and if pigments are present it may be darker. These bumps grow slowly over the years, and are usually found in the chest and back.
Squamous cell carcinoma develops as small bumps on scalp, face, and hands that are damaged by exposure to the sun. These bumps are referred to as solar keratosis and are tender and uneven in appearance. These bumps may become thicker and tender gradually over several months and years. This is the symptom of the bump becoming invasive and growing deeper in the skin.
Melanoma is characterized by a change in the color or size of a mole or a birthmark in the skin. These may develop in any part of the body, but is more common in the back and legs. The moles are usually uneven in appearance with rough and uneven edges. They start in the form of brown spots surrounded by dark speckles. These moles gradually change color, size, and shape over a period of time. Some of them may start oozing fluids or blood. Some even form crusts on the skin. These moles may be found on hands, legs, mucous membrane lining of mouth, vagina and anus.