What is the signs and symptoms of skin cancer ?

Skin Cancers

Cancer of the skin is the most common kind of cancer and, because it is visible, it is the most easily diagnosed and treated. It is estimated that between 500,000 and 900,000 such cancers are treated each year. With the exception of malignant melanoma, skin cancer is also the most curable of all cancers. Skin cancer can develop in almost any area of the skin. The face, neck, forearms, and backs of hands, because they are most exposed, are the most common sites. Long term exposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer.

Those Most Likely to Get Skin Cancer 

• Light skinned persons living in the southern part of the country

• Persons who have had excessive exposure to the sun without protection, such as farmers, seamen, ranchers, etc.

• Persons over 40 years of age, males more often than females

• Persons with fair complexions whose skin sunburns rather than tans

• Relatives of persons with basal cell skin cancer

• Persons who have had excessive exposure to x-rays

• Persons whose families have a history of melanoma Symptoms of Skin Cancer

• Any spot which forms a scab, rescabs, and fails to heal

• A scaly skin thickening which develops in a small area, usually on face, neck, or hands

• A molelike growth that increases in size, darkens, becomes ulcerated, bleeds easily

• A pearly or waxy growth

• Any sore, blister, patch, pimple, or other blemish that does not show signs of healing within 2 to 3 weeks.

Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Tests for Skin Cancer 

• Excisional biopsy for lesions of less than 2 centimeters

• Incisional biopsy for larger lesions

• If doctor suspects melanoma, electrocautery biopsy or electro excision should never be performed. If there is any question, ask for a second pathologist's opinion.

What do I need to remember? 

• Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer, is the most easily diagnosed and treated, and is the most curable.

• Ninety five percent of skin cancer patients are free of their disease following medically approved treatment (usually surgery).

• Any sore, blister, patch, pimple, or other skin blemish that does not heal in 2 to 3 weeks should be seen by a doctor.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Skin Cancer 

• What kind of skin cancer do I have?

• What kind of treatment will you give me? Why?

• What are the alternatives?

• Will I need a skin graft?

• Who will do it?

• How extensive will it be?

Do You Have Skin Cancer?

What kind of doctor should I see if I have symptoms of skin cancer? 

You should see your own family doctor or a dermatologist. If you have malignant melanoma, a surgeon specializing in cancer treatment or an oncologist should be handling your case. If you need reconstructive work done as a result of some kind of skin cancer, a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, otolaryngologist, or maxillofacial surgeon would be the doctor of choice.

Is the National Cancer Institute supporting any studies on skin cancer? 

The National Cancer Instituted Clinical Cooperative Groups are presently studying new treatment methods for malignant melanoma and mycosis fungoides, two types of skin cancer .

What is the skin? 

The skin is one of the largest organs in the body. It has two main layers with several sublayers. The main top layer is called the epidermis, and the main underlying layer of connective tissue is called the dermis. The two skin layers, together with specialized structures (such as nerves, hair, nails, and various types of glands), protect the body from injury, receive sensory impulses, excrete waste products, and regulate body temperature. The skin in performing these functions is constantly exposed to the sun, wind, industrial elements, and other harsh external and internal stresses.

How to check for skin cancer

What results from these exposures? 

What usually results are benign abnormalities. However, sometimes the results are malignant. When they are malignant, they develop as two main kinds of skin cancer, which are distinguished by the cell type: basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer.

Is it true that skin cancer is the most common cancer? 

Yes. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Fortunately, it is also one ofthe easiest to diagnose and to detect at an early stage. It is estimated that 45 to 50 percent of all persons living to age 65 will have had at least one skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Signs: The ABCDEs of Melanoma

Is skin cancer curable? 

Yes. Today, 95 percent of skin cancer patients are free of their disease following medically approved treatment. If patients were to seek medical attention early enough, it is possible that the cure rate could be even higher 98 percent or even 100 percent. And most skin cancer can be treated either in an outpatient clinic or in a doctor's office.

What causes skin cancer? 

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun or other sources is the leading cause of skin cancer in people.


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