Skin Cancer Causes and treatment
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
Causes of skin cancer
Family history of skin cancer
Most non melanoma skin cancers don’t run in families. But research has found some families seem to have a higher number than normal. You have an increased risk of developing a squamous cell skin cancer (SCC) if one of your parents has had an SCC. People who have a family history of melanoma have an increased risk of basal cell skin cancer (BCC).
Of course, skin type runs in families. So people from fair skinned families will be more at risk. But there might be some other inherited genes that increase the risk of non melanoma skin cancer in some families.
Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. This may be long term exposure, or short periods of intense sun exposure and burning. The ultraviolet light in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells. This damage can happen years before a cancer develops.
The older you are, the more likely you are to develop non melanoma skin cancer. But skin cancers can develop in younger people too.
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
Ultraviolet light exposure, either from the sun or from tanning beds. Fair-skinned individuals, with hazel or blue eyes, and people with blond or red hair are particularly vulnerable. The problem is worse in areas of high elevation or near the equator where sunlight exposure is more intense.
A chronically suppressed immune system (immunosuppression) from underlying diseases such as HIV/AIDS infection or cancer, or from some medications such as prednisone or chemotherapy.
Exposure to ionizing radiation (X-rays) or chemicals known to predispose to cancer such as arsenic.
Certain types of sexually acquired wart virus infections.
People who have a history of one skin cancer have a 20% .
How skin cancer is diagnosed
Skin cancer is diagnosed by physical examination and biopsy. Biopsy is a quick and simple procedure where part or all of the spot is removed and sent to a laboratory. It may be done by your family doctor or you can be referred to a dermatologist or surgeon. Results may take about a week to be ready.
How skin cancer is treated
In choosing the best treatment option, your doctor will consider your age and general health, the type and size of cancer, where it is on your body and what you want. The treatment choice will also depend on whether the skin cancer has spread elsewhere in your body.
Types of treatment include: