What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a growth or tumour on the skin. Skin is the outer tissue, which forms the outer covering of the body. It contains two main layers:  The dermis, or cutis Vera, the inner or true skin lying beneath the epidermis, the epidermis or cuticle, forming the outer coat. The skin continuously shed its outer cells as scales. Skin cancer mostly occurs on the epidermis (outer layer). This makes it clearly noticed and detectable in early stages. Unlike other cancers, skin cancer rarely kills its victims. Non-melaroma skin cancers are most common and are usually localized tumours caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation of the sun and they do not spread.

Skin cancer is thought to be as a result of DNA damage by UV radiation. Other factors thought to cause it are smoking, genetic factor, deficiencies in certain minerals and vitamins. There are a number of types of skin cancers but three stand out: Melaroma cancer; this is the least frequent. It spreads widely and has brown to black-looking lesions. Pain, itching, ulceration and or bleeding accompany it. Squamous cancer; this is less common than besal cancer. It spreads widely and is to be found on ears and lips. It can develop into a large mass if not checked. It can be accompanied by ulceration and bleeding. (Besal cell cancer; this is the most common. It rarely spreads and is to be found on the face, head, neck and shoulders.

Skin cancer is easily treated by surgery or radiation. Other skin cancers are merkell cell carcinoma, spindle cell tumours and sebaceous carcinoma. Treatment depends on the age, type of cancer and area infected, but treatment generally takes the form of radiation therapy, surgery/reconstruction and chemotherapy. Unlike other forms of cancer, skin cancer is the simplest to prevent, avoid using tobacco products, reduce over-exposure to UV radiation and wear protective clothing (long sleeves and huts) when outdoors for a long period of time and eating foods rich in vitamins and amino acids.

Filed Under: Skin Cancer

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