Skin cancers are one of the common cancers in the world population. Main risk factors are ultraviolet exposure, ionizing radiation exposure and being older than 50 years. All skin cancers are common in fair skin people. There are several types of skin cancers, out of those, two are very common. Those two common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Malignant melanoma is rare than the above mentioned cancers, however, it spreads via the lymphatics and blood therefore considered very dangerous.
Skin cancer is now becoming one of the common cancers in the world. All of these skin cancers are seen more in fair skin people.
What Do The Early Stages Of Skin Cancer Look Like?
Skin cancers are locally destructive cancerous growth of the skin and originate from the superficial layers of the skin.
There Are Several Types Of Skin Cancers
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Malignant melanoma
- Merkel cell carcinomas
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the commonest cancers. Malignant melanoma is rare, but is very deadly type of skin cancer as it spreads to the other areas of the body. Other cancers are very rare.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in humans.
- Site – commonly seen on the face.
- Size and shape – started as a small nodule and when the center parts die the nodules becomes an ulcer with a rolled edge. If neglected can grow into a considerable size.
- Color – small pink patch of raised skin which can also be flesh-colored and have a tiny bump (central scab), which repeatedly falls off and then re-forms.
- Surface – nodule is covered with blood vessels, which may give rise to a pink hue.
- Edge – irregular raised edge.
- Never spreads (metastasizes) – beyond the original tumor site, but can infiltrate the adjacent tissues.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 20% of all skin cancers and is more common in immunosuppressed people.
- Site – this cancer can occur on any part of the skin but seen more in exposed skin of the head and neck, hands, forearms.
- Size and Shape – develops as a nodule, as it enlarge the center part dies off and the nodule turns into an ulcer with everted edge. Can become any shape when it enlarges.
- Color – dark red-brown color. It is very vascular (lots of blood vessels in the cancer. Bleeding can occur.
- Surface – scaling and thick.
- Edge – everted edge is seen because of the excessive tissue growth raises it above and over the normal skin surface.
- Site- found on limbs, head, neck and trunk.
- Shape and size – it can start off as a small mole and suddenly increase in size, can vary in shape. If neglected it becomes large, florid cancer protruding from and overlapping the surrounding skin.
- Color – it’s dark in color, either black or purple.
- Surface – the ulcer is covered with a crust of blood and serum, surface looks wet and soft.
- Edge – irregular edges.
- Surrounding tissue – there may be a halo of brown pigment in the skin around the cancer.
Malignant melanomas spread via the lymphatics to the lymph nodes and by blood to lungs, liver and brain.