What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Reducing exposure to ultraviolet light from sun’s radiation can prevent most skin cancers. Skin cancer if detected early is treatable.

The skin, the body’s largest organ protects against infection and injury and helps regulate body temperature. The skin also stores water and fat and produces vitamin D. Skin is made up of two main layers. The epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and the dermis (inner layer of the skin).

Types of Skin Cancers

There are three main types of skin cancers

(a) Squamous cell carcinoma: — Most of the epidermis is made up of flat, scale-like cells squamous cells. Cancer of these cells is called Squamous cell carcinoma. It usually arises from sun exposure, but can appear on skin that has been burned, damaged by chemicals, or exposed to x-rays.

(b) Basal cell carcinomas: — Cells in the lower epidermis are round cells known as basal cells. A great majority of skin cancers develop from this type of cells that have been exposed to the sun and is called basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma most often forms on the head & neck.

(c) Melanoma: — Where the epidermis meets the dermis, there are scattered cells called melanocytes, which produces, the melanin that gives skin color. Melanoma starts in melanocytes, and it is the most serious of the three cancer types.

Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancers.

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes. Because most melanoma cells keep producing melanin, melanoma tumors are usually, but not as a rule, brown or black. Melanoma is much less common than basal cell and Squamous cell skin cancers, but it is very difficult to cure.

Melanoma mostly appears in fair skinned people, but colored skin people are also affected. Thiscancer can develop on the palms of hands, soles of feet, and under the nails. Rarely, melanomas can form in the inner parts of the body, like eyes, mouth, vagina, and other internal organs.

A kind of skin cancer that looks like melanoma is called spitz nevus. These tumors can be mistaken with melanoma. These are generally benign and do not spread, but sometimes diagnosis is difficult to differentiate between the two.

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