Cancer is a super scary word that nobody loves to hear about. However, despite our resistance to talk about it, the fact remains that cancer is a deadly disease.
It has claimed the lives of so many people in the world including the lives of our loved ones.
What is cancer?
Cancer is a disease characterized by an abnormal or uncontrollable growth of cells. This leads to a formation of a lump called a tumor. When cancer is left untreated, it undergoes metastasis (i.e. it spreads to other parts of the body).
There are three different groups of cancer, they are classified according to their spread and growth level as well as other characteristics.
The three cancer tumor groups include benign, malignant, and precancerous.
Just like the name implies, this kind of tumor is not life-threatening in the early stage. They are composed of cells that are almost similar to normal healthy cells. Their growth is extremely slow and they do not engage in metastasis.
They become life-threatening when they grow larger and compress important organs in the body.
This is the exact opposite of a benign tumor. If a benign tumor is slow to spread, then malignant tumors spread at a very fast rate. They also undergo a process known as metastasis where they detach from the primary source and spread to other organs.
This ability and the rapid growth they undergo make them extremely dangerous and life-threatening.
“Pre” This is a condition where abnormal cells have a possibility of developing into cancer.
Cancer is almost limitless, it grows in different parts of our body including the brain, breast, prostate, blood, and skin.
The skin is an integument organ; it is the outer protective cover of the body. The skin is tasked with the responsibility of protecting the visceral.
As a protective organ, it is exposed to different risk factors that increase the occurrence of skin cancer.
Types of skin cancer
There are three different types of skin cancer, they include; melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell cancer.
One of the most important things to note about skin cancer is, the type of cancer an individual develops is strongly linked to the onset of cancerous growth.
Basal cell cancer
Basal cell cancer is the most prevalent type of skin cancer; it is most common among light-skinned individuals(fair).
This doesn’t mean dark-skinned individuals don’t experience this form of skin cancer. However, it more evident among fair people.
Basal cell carcinoma appears like a pinkish patch of skin or a little pearl-colored pump. It is caused by years of exposure to excessive sunlight.
It forms in major areas of the body including the head, neck, arms, abdomen, and other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous skin carcinoma appears as a scaly patch or a sore that heals temporarily and reopens later. It is also an effect of excessive exposure to sunlight.
It appears around the face, neck, arms, and other parts of the body that are constantly exposed to sunlight.
This is the most serious or severe form of skin cancer. It exhibits the metastatic function (i.e. it has the ability to spread).
10 signs of skin cancer to watch out for
It is important that you visit a dermatologist if you notice any signs listed below. Don’t dismiss it or tread casually. Cancer is a deadly disease that kills millions of people yearly.
Rough scaly patches
If you notice rough or scaly patches on your skin, no need to panic. However, this might actually just be a sign of squamous cell carcinoma.
These patches are more evident or visible in fair-skinned individuals as they appear within the color of pink and brown.
They can be seen on the face, head, hands, and other parts of the body frequently exposed to sunlight. If you aren’t certain about the patches present on your skin.
It is advisable that you seek the opinion of a dermatologist.
Pearly or waxy bump
A pearly or waxy bump can likely be a sign of basal cell cancer. If you observe a boil or pimple on your skin that has a sunken head and doesn’t seem to go away. Visit a doctor immediately.
Pimples do not have irregular blood vessels growing near the surface with a high possibility of bleeding constantly.
Don’t be scared of talking to your doctor. It is better to deal with it at an early stage.
Flat flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
A sore that doesn’t seem to heal might not only be a risk factor for diabetes. It could also be a sign of skin cancer.
If you notice any sores on your skin that refuse to heal and also bleed. This can likely be a sign of basal cell carcinoma. It usually appears on the head, neck, face, and arms.
This can be easily treated at the early stage, visit your dermatologist for immediate treatment.
If it is not treated early, it can spread into the skin and lead to the formation of scars or disfiguration in extreme cases.
Firm red lesions
This is quite prevalent among dark-skinned people. It usually develops in areas that are not exposed to sunlight.
If there are dull reddish lesions present on your skin with a sunken center. You need to seek professional help. If the lesion is ulcerated there might be another ring of tissue inside the original area.
The lesion might refuse to heal or form a crusty patch.
A flat lesion with a scaly crusted surface
This is a sign of skin cancer specifically squamous cell carcinoma. It is caused by excessive exposure to sunlight and tanning beds.
Flat lesions that refuse to heal or develop a crusty or scaly surface are likely squamous cell carcinoma. They appear on the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and hollow organs.
In the earliest stage, they are not extremely dangerous however if they remain untreated it leads to scars or disfiguration.
Weird looking moles
Moles that constantly change in size, color, or shape might be a sign of melanoma. Check out for moles or dark spots that constantly change their appearance.
Melanomas are usually caused by a list of factors including the ultraviolet ray, genetic factor, and other risk factors.
There is an easy ABCDE method to use in checking for moles.
Melanomas are usually asymmetrical, this simply means that there is an irregularity in their shape. Check out for weird-looking irregular moles. This might be a sign of melanomas.
B – border irregularity
Look out for moles with irregular borders. Melanomas have borders that are irregular in shape, a non-cancerous mole will have a defined border.
C – color multiplicity
Benign moles are usually the same shade or color. However, melanoma lesions or moles have more than one color or shade.
D – diameter greater than ¼ inch
In simple terms, diameter is a straight line that passes through the center of a circle. Melanomas have a diameter greater than ¼ which is approximately the size of a classic or standard pencil.
E – evolution or change in size or shape
Melanomas have the ability to change their sizes, shapes, and color. If you have a mole on your skin, watch it closely and if you notice any changes. I strongly recommend that you pay a visit to a dermatologist.
Irregularly bordered legions with colors ranging from red, white, blue, or black.
Melanomas can develop in different and unsuspecting areas of the body. It is important that you pay great attention to your skin to identify odd-looking lesions or moles.
The mortality rate of melanoma is extremely high. If you notice a spot on your skin that looks odd or you don’t seem to understand. Seek immediate professional opinion.
It is advisable to add regular skin checkups to your monthly self-care routine.
Hard yellowish lumps on the eyelids
Despite the specificity in the subheading, these lumps may also appear on different parts of the body including the neck, trunk, or genital area.
This is a rare form of skin cancer known as sebaceous gland carcinoma. This form of cancer is not exactly life-threatening but it is important that you treat them.
Flesh-colored or bluish-red nodule
A boil or pimple with a sunken center should not be treated casually. As this could be a sign of Merkel cell carcinoma.
This is another rare form of skin cancer commonly found on the face, head, and neck. Merkel cell carcinoma is common among older people who have a history of long exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
It is characterized by a rapid spread; it’s better discovered early for immediate treatment.
Red or purple patches on the skin
Purple or red patches on the skin can be a sign of Kaposi sarcoma. This is another rare form of skin cancer that often occurs in people with a weak immune system (AIDS patients).
It develops in the blood vessels and creates painless lesions or tumors on the face, legs, and groin.
How to protect yourself from skin cancer
Avoid over-exposure of your skin to sunlight.
Use an effective sunscreen to serve as a protective barrier. Use sunscreen with a minimum of 30 SPF.
Protect your skin with clothes and other accessories that cover up your body (long skirt, trousers, hats, sunglasses).