Of all the organs in the body, the rebellious action of the skin is the most obvious. In startling ways, the deviation from the homeostatic range reveals itself on the skin. There are about 1000 known ailments and conditions associated with the skin. There are those that are common like yeast infection and there are those that are far more serious like burns and skin cancer.
Luckily, the majority of the tumours that arise in the skin are benign, meaning that they don’t metastasize or spread to other areas of the body. There are those, however, that are malignant and invades other areas of the body.
An important thing to note when understanding skin cancer is that the single, most crucial risk factor for skin cancer is the overexposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation in the sunlight. Although the molecules in the DNA do absorb these UV rays and dissipate them into harmless heat, when it reaches beyond their normal capacity these molecules are no longer able to do their jobs.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. It is least malignant and records show that over 30% of white people do get basal cell carcinoma in their lifetime. What happens with this condition is that the cells in the stratum basale proliferate. As their numbers increases, they start to invade the other layers of the skin, namely the dermis and the hypodermis.
Basal cell carcinoma occurs mostly in areas exposed to the sun, like the face and has a shiny, dome-shaped appearance. Its growth is slow and it gets detected even before it can metastasize to other areas of the body. Of all the cases, 99% is cured by surgical excision.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
From the keratinocytes of stratum spinosum arise the reddened, scaly papule. The most common sites where these papules arise are in the lower lip, scalp, ears and hands. When compared to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma multiplies rapidly and can quickly metastasize if it is not removed. However, when it is detected early and removed either surgically or by way of radiation therapy, there is a high chance of achieving complete cure.
The most dangerous of all skin cancer is the cancer of Melanocytes or melanoma. It is highly metastatic and the worst part is it is resistant to chemotherapy. The incidence of melanoma occurring is around 5%, not that high compared to other skin cancer but records show that incidence is increasing rapidly.
Melanoma starts out as a pigment, then spreads to form a black to brown patch. The patch then metastasize to surrounding blood vessels and lymph nodes. When detected at its early stages, the chances of survival are high. However, when the lesions reach to about 4 mm in thickness, the chances of survival is poor. The treatment for melanoma includes a wide surgical excision which is then accompanied by a process of immunizing the body against the cancer cells or immunotherapy.