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What are the early symptoms of skin cancer, and how can it be controlled?

  There are two types of skin cancer. They are either melanoma skin cancer or non-melanoma skin cancer. Skin cancer happens when the normal skin cells transform into abnormal skin cells and multiply in number without control. Melanoma skin cancer is a serious variant of skin cancer. Melanoma can arise from any parts of the body as long as they are skin cells. Melanoma can affect the skin on the genitals, back area, nose, and other body parts. Melanoma is considered an inherited disease. Patients might inherit this disease from their first-degree family members. Without any treatment, melanoma can spread to any organs inside patients’ bodies. Prevention of skin cancer helps protect you and your beloved ones. Always walk under shade, apply sun block, and see a doctor on any health issues are three preventive measures for this disease. 

  Non-melanoma can happen anywhere on the body, but body parts that are exposed to the sun are at higher risk to develop non-melanoma skin cancer. This type of skin cancer is mainly caused by damages from sun exposure. The damages caused by sun rays build over time. The longer and the more you are exposed to sunlight without any protection like sunblock, the higher your risk to suffer from skin cancer. The types of skin cancer (non-melanoma) are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer grows slowly and if detected early, they are easier to treat compared to melanoma skin cancer. However, without any treatment and medical intervention, this skin cancer will continue to grow and invade other body structures. 

  The lesions of melanoma skin cancer appear like a mole. The lesions are either black or brown. The good thing is that melanoma lesions can be differentiated from a mole based on certain features. The lesions are usually asymmetry, uneven borders, and larger diameter in comparison to the eraser on top of a pencil. Melanoma skin cancer may also cause bleeding and swelling of the skin. Most moles or birthmarks are normal. Let’s say you suddenly have new marks or moles or any skin marks that you are abnormal, please visit a doctor for evaluation and opinion.

  Non-melanoma skin cancer lesions may appear as the following:

  • Pink in colour
  • Peeling
  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Bleeding
  • Crusty
  • Thick

  Actinic keratoses are one of the skin changes that might happen due to sun exposure. Actinic keratosis may transform into cancer too. Treating conditions like actinic keratosis is important to prevent any emergence of skin cancer. History taking, the examination of the lesions, the examination of other body systems, and investigations are important to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer. There are investigations available to confirm the diagnosis of melanoma skin cancer or non-melanoma skin cancer. Both can be detected by a procedure known as a skin biopsy. Skin biopsy is a procedure where a doctor will take a sample from the skin lesion and send it to the lab. At the lab, histopathological studies will be carried out on the sample. The sample is examined under the microscope.

  Like any other cancer, staging will be done once the diagnosis of skin cancer is confirmed. The staging is important to classify the progress of the disease based on the spread of the cancer cells. The treatment options for both cancers are:

  • Surgery 
  • Radiotherapy

  Other treatment options for skin melanoma are:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy

  Other treatment options for non-melanoma skin cancer are:

  • Skin creams
  • Photodynamic therapy