What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a common and locally disastrous cancerous (malignant) growth of the skin. It originates from the cells that line up along the membrane that separates the superficial layer of skin from the deeper layers. Unlike cutaneous malignant melanoma, the vast majority of these sorts of skin cancers have a limited potential to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) and become life-threatening.
There are three major types of skin cancer: (1) basal cell carcinoma (the most common) and (2) squamous cell carcinoma (the second most common), which originate from skin cells, and (3) melanoma, which originates from the pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes) but is less common, though more dangerous, than the first two varieties.
What are the different types of skin cancer?
There are various types of skin cancers:
Basal cell carcinoma: There are various types of basal cell carcinoma, including the superficial type, the least worrisome variety; the nodular type, the most common; and the morpheaform, the most challenging to treat because the tumors often grow into the surrounding tissue (infiltrate) without a well-defined border.
Squamous cell carcinoma: It is common in immunosuppressed people. In most cases, its biologic behavior is much like basal cell carcinoma with a small but significant chance of distant spread.
Less common skin cancers include melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, a typical fibroxanthoma, cutaneous lymphoma, and dermatofibrosarcoma.
What is the treatment for skin cancer?
There are plenty of effective ways to treating skin cancer. The choice of therapy depends on the location and size of the tumor, the microscopic characteristics of the cancer, and the general health of the patient.
Topical medications: In the case of superficial basal cell carcinomas, some creams, gels, and solutions can be used, including imiquimod (Aldara). Some patients do not experience any side effects of these topical treatments, but others may have redness, inflammation, and irritation. A disadvantage of topical medications is that there is no tissue accessible to inspect to determine if a tumor is removed completely.
Electrodessication and curettage (EDC): The tumorous region is anaesthetised with a local anesthetic and is repeatedly scraped with a sharp instrument (curette), and the edge is then cauterized with an electric needle. The advantage of this method is that it is fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive. The disadvantages are that the scar is often somewhat unsightly, and the recurrence rate is as high as 15%.
Surgical excision: The area around the tumor is numbed with a local anesthetic. A football-shaped piece of tissue and the tumor is then taken off and then the wound edges are closed with sutures. For very big tumors, skin grafts or flaps are needed to close the defect. The advantages of this form of treatment are that the surgical specimen can be examined to be sure that the whole tumor is successfully removed, the scar produced is normally more cosmetically acceptable than that of the EDC procedure and there is more than 90% cure rate.. It is a more complicated procedure and is more expensive than EDC.
Mohs micrographic surgery: The site is locally anesthetized and the surgeon removes the visible tumor with a small margin of normal tissue. The tissue is immediately evaluated under a microscope and areas that demonstrate residual microscopic tumor involvement are re-excised and the margins are re-examined. This cycle continues until no further tumor is seen. This more complex and costly option is the treatment of choice for tumors where normal tissue preservation is vital, where the tumor margins are poorly defined, in tumors that have been previously treated and have recurred, and in certain high-risk tumors.
Radiation Therapy: Ten to fifteen treatment sessions deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor and a small surrounding skin area. This kind of treatment is useful in those who are not candidates for any surgical procedure. The advantage of radiation therapy is that there is no cutting involved. The disadvantages of this expensive alternative are that the treated area cannot be tested to be sure the whole tumor is gone and radiation scars look worse over time. It is for this reason it is usually reserved for elderly patients.
Cryosurgery where tissue is destroyed by freezing, photodynamic therapy (PDT) in which medication and blue light is used to destroy the cancerous tissue, laser surgery to vaporize (ablate) the skin’s top layer and destroy lesions, and oral medications vismodegib (Erivedge) and sonidegib (Odomzo) are the additional kinds of treatments for skin cancers.