Skin Cancer and Diagnosis

The most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States of America is skin cancer. Skin cancer is an umbrella term, and can be broken down into various types of skin cancers; squamous cell cancers, basal cell cancers, melanoma, and a few other less common types. Symptoms for skin cancer include wounds that don’t heal, spotting on the skin, or a mole that changes shape or color. If skin cancer is suspected during an exam, the medical professional will take a biopsy. This will help them to come up with a diagnosis. Depending on the type and severity of the cancer, surgery is the most commonly used approach to getting rid of it. With melanoma and squamous cell cancers, other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy may be needed. Skin cancer is so common that it is now considered and epidemic the the USA, with 50% of all diagnosed cancers being skin cancers. Luckily, there are a lot of simple things that you can do daily to minimize your risk of getting skin cancer.

Skin is an organ of the body and consists of three layers. There is the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissues. The epidermis is the top layer of the skin that is exposed to all of the elements. Squamous, basal, and melanocyte cells are all found in this layer of skin, and account for the most common skin cancers. The middle layer of skin is called the dermis, and it consists of collagen and elastin. Hair follicles, nerves, blood vessels, and sebaceous glands are found in this later. Lastly, there is the subcutaneous tissue. This part of the skin contains large blood vessels, connecting tissue, and fat. Tissues mass varies depending on how much the person weighs.

The exact cause of skin cancers is still unknown, but there are several risk factors that have been noted over the years. You are at a higher risk for skin cancer if you have extended sun exposure, pale skin, light colored eyes, skin that burns easily, family history of skin cancer, a weak immune system, chemical exposure, red or blonde hair, genetic syndromes, are taking part in radiation or ultraviolet therapies, are a smoker, or if you have been exposed to arsenic by route of drinking water.

DIagnosing skin cancer starts with a physical exam and full history. Depending on what the skin imperfection looks like ,a biopsy may be taken.Sometimes it is hard to judge if the area is in fat cancer without taking it for testing. The biopsy can be done one of three ways: Shaved, incisional, and excisional. With a shave biopsy the area is numbed and a pieve is simply shaved off. Incisional biopsies are performed by making a cut and removing a piece of the abnormal area. Excisional biopsies remove the entire suspected area and a bit around it as well for evaluation.

If skin cancer is in the advanced stages, more tests are done including CT skans, PET scans, sentinel node biopsies, or other tests depending on the type, location, and severity of the condition.

Treatment options will vary based on the type of cancer, the size of the cancerous area, and the patient themselves. The most common form of treatment is the removal of the infected area. For more advanced cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy may be required to rid the body of the cancer.

If you feel that you may have skin cancer, it is important to see a medical professional as soon as possible. Detecting it early is imperative.