Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

1 What is Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer?

Nonmelanoma skin cancer is a general term for all types of skin cancer except melanoma. Several types of non-melanoma skin cancer are known. These include:

Apart from the skin cancers mentioned above, nonmelanoma skin cancer also includes other types of cancers that usually spread to the skin from other body parts, such as mouth and breast cancers.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer may include:

  • Open sore. You may notice an open sore that remains open for a few weeks. The sore may bleed, ooze, or turn crusty.
  • Noticeable changes in the skin: Your skin may have raised patch that is reddish in color, or you may notice a bump that’s either shiny pink, pearly white or translucent.
  • Growth of a scar-looking patch with a poorly-defined border is also a tell-tale sign.

Additionally, a wart-like growth in the skin may also be a cause for alarm.

3 Making a Diagnosis

The doctor may base the diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer on your medical condition, age, signs and symptoms, and test results.

Typically, the only test that may diagnose non-melanoma skin cancer is a biopsy. The procedure involves taking a sample of the tissue from the affected area and examining the sample to determine if cancer cells are present.

4 Treatment

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is basically based on the type of skin cancer the patient has. Generally, treatment may involve removal of cancer cells through surgery.

5 Risks and Complications

The following factors may increase a person’s risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer:

  • Excessive sun exposure. People who are constantly under the sun without any protection from its harmful rays are more at risk.
  • Artificial tanning. The use of tanning beds and sun lamps are known to be one of the causes of skin cancer. 
  • Fair skin. Skin cancer is more common with fair-skinned people and those with blue eyes, red or blond hair, and freckles. 
  • Precancerous skin conditions. Appearance of actinic keratoses or the rough, red, and scaly patches on the skin, may mean that you have a higher chance of having non-melanoma skin cancer. 
  • Fragile, sunburn-prone skin. People who have had sunburn or skin injury has a heightened risk of getting skin cancer.
  • Genetic syndromes. Certain inherited conditions are linked to the increased risk for non-melanoma skin cancer. Conditions, such as Gorlin’s syndrome, Rombo, and epidermolysis bullosa complex are example of these. 
  • Compromised immune system. People with suppressed immunity due to certain diseases like HIV/AIDS, some kinds of leukemia, and stem cell therapy are more likely to get the cancer compared to healthier people.
  • Certain medications. Some medications, particularly the ones that suppress the immune system, may increase the risk of having this condition.
  • Radiation therapy. A person who have received radiation therapy to treat a kind of cancer has a higher risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • HPV. Human papillomavirus or HPV infection increases the risk of having this cancer, particularly when the person has a compromised immune system.
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