The Truth About Skin Cancers
The magnitude of skin cancer can be gauged by the fact that the annual incidence of skin cancer alone is equal to that of breast, colon, prostate and lung put together. Somehow, skin cancers have never received publicity like that of breast cancer or lung cancer. The incidence of skin cancer is on the rise and it is especially important that the public become aware of this fact.
Skin cancers are a very heterogeneous group. They range from very less to extremely malignant. The presentation too can vary. The way to confirm skin cancer is by way of biopsy, whereby a small piece of tissue is removed under local anaesthesia and sent to the pathologist. The term skin cancer encompasses at least 20-30 different cancers and the more important ones are basal cell carcinoma, squamous carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
- 4-5 times more common than squamous carcinoma.
- Most common cancer afflicting mankind.
- Incidence has increased almost 30-40 per cent in the last 30 years.
- 75 per cent of basal cell cancers occur on the tace. Squamous Carcinoma
- They are less common than basal cell carcinoma but more aggressive.
- Incidence is on the rise.
- Common in immunocompromised patients like those who are on immunosuppressants or HIV positive.
- More aggressive than both squamous and basal cell carcinoma.
- Can occur anywhere in the body and usually present as moles.
Most moles are not cancerous but those with the following features should alert patients regarding melanoma
- Significant variation in colour and shape.
- Irregularly shaped.
- Constant itching.
- Hole in the middle that shows the tissue inside or bleeds. ê Satellite moles (new moles that grow near an existing mole).
Skin cancers are a very heterogeneous group. They range from very less to extremely malignant
Most skin cancers are treated surgically and there are many new techniques now available to treat skin cancers. Some treatment techniques are mentioned below:
- Curettage with electrodessication.
- Photodynamic therapy.
- Laser therapy.
- Radiation therapy.
- Topical application of 5-FU and imiquimod.
- Excision with margin evaluahon.
- Mohs micrographic surgery.
Apart from the primary site the regional lymph nodes also have to be examined and treated. It should be remembered that treatment results for most skin cancers are good, but certain melanomas can be extremely aggressive leading to rapid spread in other areas.