Diseases

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is an uncontrolled division of cells in the skin. This results in a change on the skin, such as a rough spot that doesn’t go away, a wound that doesn’t heal or a change in color or size of an already existing skin defect. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.


Cause

In most cases, skin cancer is caused by too much exposure to UV radiation, for example by excessive sunbathing. However, the sun is not the only source of UV radiation. A sunbed or sunlamp also generates UV radiation. Particularly exposure to UV radiation in childhood and frequent sunburn increase the risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer can also be hereditary. Using drugs that suppress the immune system can also increase the chance of developing skin cancer (in particular squamous cell carcinoma).

Other risk factors for skin cancer are:


Symptoms

Known signs and symptoms of skin cancer are itch, bleeding, ulcers and color changes. New skin defects can emerge for no reason or existing skin defects can suddenly change.

Every type of skin cancer looks different:


Diagnosis

The general practitioner will assess the change in the skin, may remove a small piece of tissue (biopsy), make a diagnosis and then immediately start treatment. The patient may also be referred to a specialist, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. In some cases, no biopsy is taken but the doctor chooses to remove the entire tumor at once.


Treatment

In case of skin cancer, there are several treatments possible:

Which treatment ultimately will be chosen, depends on the type of skin cancer that a person has and how far the cancer has progressed. Sometimes, a combination of treatments is done in order to remove any metastases. After treatment, the patient often remains under control with the doctor for several years to see if the cancer doesn’t come back.


Prognosis

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer that, with timely intervention, can be properly cured in most cases. Of patients with basal cell carcinoma, almost one hundred percent heals. In squamous cell carcinoma, the cure rate is over ninety percent. In melanoma, the chance of survival is high when the tumor is detected and treated early. In about eighty percent of the patients, the disease does not return within five years. In patients with metastases in the lymph node, the survival rate is lower.

When melanoma cells enter via the blood into other organs, the specialist examines whether treatment is an option. Treatment is then mainly focused on inhibiting the disease and/or reducing or preventing symptoms.


Considerations

Always be careful in the sun:


Facts

Guide

Cause

Symptoms

Diagnosis

Treatment

Prognosis

Considerations

Facts

See also

Cancer

Mole

Scar

Wart

Biopsy

Category

Skin disease, Oncological disease

First Health Guide

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