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An Overview of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that forms from epithelial cells and poses a severe threat to the health of the world’s population. In recent years, there has been a negative trend in the incidence of this type of cancer. At the same time, skin cancer refers to tumors that are relatively easy to visualize, so it is available for early detection and timely treatment and, as a result, for the most favorable prognosis.
Skin Cancer Facts
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, accounting for up to 14.2% of all malignant neoplasms. In men, this type of tumor takes 3rd place; in women, the second.
According to statistics, every year, the incidence rate increases by at least 5%, while oncologists note a rejuvenation trend. In most cases, about 90%, skin cancer occurs in open areas of the skin, with 70% of cases occurring in the face. This is how common skin cancer is.
Remember: even bad skin cancer can be effectively treated if diagnosed early and changes are noticed on time.
Why Does Skin Cancer Occur?
There is no single reliable cause for skin cancer. Oncologists identify the following risk factors:
- Sunburn, intense tanning both in natural conditions and in a solarium
- Congenital nevi
- Genetic predisposition, that is, cases of cancer, especially skin cancer, in close relatives
- Diseases of the endocrine system, especially damage to the thyroid gland
- Trauma to the skin, birthmarks, and moles
- Increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light
- Age factor – increases the risk of skin cancer with age
- Skin phenotypes 1 and 2 – people with fair skin, light or red hair, blue or gray eyes, and freckles
- Skin Cancer Signs
- Different types of skin oncology look different, but there are common symptoms:
- Soreness of skin formations
- Burning and itching
- Swelling with a red border
- Darkening of the light area of the skin
- Prolonged ulceration
- Soreness and enlargement of the lymph nodes next to the neoplasm
- Densification of the skin area, its protrusion above the common surface
Skin Cancer Stages
How dangerous is skin cancer? Many factors influence patients’ life expectancy but, to a greater extent, the process’s stage and form. Skin cancer goes through 5 stages:
- Stage 0: only the upper layers of the epithelium are affected; the predictions of a five-year survival rate are 99.9%;
- Stage 1: The tumor begins to spread into the deeper layers of the epithelium, but at the same time, its size does not exceed 2 cm. The prognosis of a five-year survival rate reaches 95%.
- Stage 2: The tumor grows up to 5 cm, and a small seal is formed. The prognosis of a five-year survival rate is more than 50%.
- Stage 3: The first metastases are already formed, which are found in the regional lymph nodes. Simultaneously, the tumor grows and already exceeds the size of 5 cm, affecting the deep layers of the skin and muscle tissue. Five-year survival projections are 30%.
- Stage 4: This is the terminal stage of the disease, characterized by multiple metastases to distant organs and tissues. In this case, skin cancer is probably fatal.
Self-diagnosis is extremely important – a skin tumor can be noticed at a very early stage. If you find warning signs, you need to contact an oncologist, who, if necessary, will prescribe one or more research methods. Some of them are described below:
- Digital Dermoscopy: Within three minutes, images of the skin surface are recorded by a digital camera frame by frame in automatic mode. The device records absolutely all moles and pigmentation changes on the human body. This research method excludes the human factor, significantly improving the diagnosis’s quality, detecting the disease at the earliest stage.
- A biopsy followed by histology: This is a reliable method that allows the doctor to look deep into tissues and detect abnormal cells. The sample is taken with a special blade, which is inserted perpendicularly to the level of the subcutaneous fat.
- Lymph node biopsy: This is a minimally invasive surgical intervention that allows determining the malignant process’s spread beyond the tumor boundaries to identify the appearance of metastases in the lymph nodes closest to the neoplasm. When the tumor spreads throughout the body, the sentinel lymph nodes are affected first, and then the malignant process is transferred further.
- MRI: This method allows you to obtain images of sections of soft tissues and organs. The research time is 10-60 minutes. MRI provides visualization of organs in any projections and sections, which allows you to see pathology even in complicated cases.
- CT: Computed tomography uses X-rays in small doses that are safe for humans. The data obtained from the X-ray detectors are processed by a computer program that constructs a layer-by-layer image on its basis.
- Ultrasound: One of the main research methods in modern practice. Using the properties of sound waves, the state of the internal organs is assessed.