Each year, 80,000 skin cancers are diagnosed in France. Of several kinds, they can most often be avoided and are mostly curable when caught in time—our complete file.
The Different Types Of Skin Cancer
The skin is the largest and heaviest organ in the human body and is not spared the risk of cancer. Two types of cancer particularly concern it :
These are the most common skin cancers. Most carcinomas are revealed after age 50 and concern the most frequently discovered areas of the body. In detail, there are different types of carcinomas:
- Actinic keratosis. These may be precancerous lesions that must then be treated as quickly as possible since they predispose to the onset of cancer. Others, on the other hand, are real early cancers. These lesions appear as brown or red spots, some forming more or less thick crusts, from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter. Sometimes keratoses resolve spontaneously.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the possible evolutions of actinic keratoses. Clinically, it develops from a nodule (an abnormal formation within an organ or on its surface, cancerous or not) which begins to ulcerate. In the form of a small wound, this cancer is often accompanied by surrounding keratoses. It risks metastasizing to the lymph nodes and therefore requires rapid treatment.
- Basal cell carcinoma. It forms a small oval surface, thick and firm but painless. This cancerous lesion can be superficial (which facilitates its healing) or nodular, which presents significant recurrence risks, depending on its location and size. Finally, invasive basal cell carcinoma is more complex due to its more substantial implantation. It, therefore, presents a greater risk of recurrence.
Rarer than carcinoma, this skin cancer is also the most serious because of the risk of metastasis it involves (in other words, its ability to reach other parts of the body). It can be located in any area but more frequently affects the trunk of men and the legs of women.
It usually develops from a small pigmented spot on the skin, which gradually expands and takes on different colors afterward, or from a pre-existing mole. Whatever the type of melanoma, its evolution depends on the precocity of its diagnosis, as well as its stage (some evolving more quickly than others). These elements are measurable from the thickness of the tumor.
Skin Cancers: Which Risk Factors?
The leading cause of the appearance of skin cancer remains exposure to UV rays, whether they come from the sun ( two-thirds of skin cancer cases) or are artificial. The type of exposure to these rays also matters. You are at greater risk of developing skin cancer if you exposed yourself a lot during your childhood and suffered many sunburns.
In addition, your sensitivity to these rays is even more tenfold if you have fair skin and hair, moles, or a family history of skin cancer. Certain genetic diseases also favor their appearance. Finally, keratoses, in particular, are more likely to appear with age. Treatment adapted to each skin cancer. Due to their localized nature, most skin cancers can be treated with surgery. But before arriving at this phase of treatment, several steps must occur.
Skin Cancers: When To Consult?
As soon as you see an unusual and questionable lesion on your skin, regardless of the area involved, make an appointment with your dermatologist. This specialist will study the skin of your whole body to identify other lesions you may not have noticed. To help him diagnose, he may need to use a dermoscopy, a device with a high magnification capacity, to observe the skin in depth.
Other possible examinations: taking X-rays of the lesion or a total or partial biopsy to analyze it more precisely in the laboratory.If the skin cancer is correctly diagnosed, other radiological examinations will be carried out to precisely define its extension and nature: radiology, MRI, scanner, etc.
The Different Treatments For Skin Cancer
These types of cancer are particularly amenable to surgical treatment because of their localized nature, mainly if treated early. The intervention takes place under local or general anesthesia and consists of removing the tumor, with a portion of healthy tissue surrounding it. The exact name of this procedure is surgical excision.
Some lesions require cryotherapy or cryosurgery: cancer cells are destroyed by cold, with liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide. Recurrent or more extensive cancers, generally detected at a more advanced stage, can be treated by radiotherapy, which destroys the cancerous cells using local irradiation.
Surgery is considered in addition to the administration of an immunomodulatory treatment to treat melanoma. In the event of metastases, targeted therapies and immunotherapies are most often implemented.
How To Prevent Skin Cancer?
Several recommendations should be put into practice to prevent any risk of skin cancer:
- Try to avoid opening yourself to the sun between noon and furthermore 5 p.m.
- Cover your body as much as possible (covering clothes, head coverings) and wear sunglasses.
- Seek maximum shade and avoid prolonged exposures.
- Apply sunscreen with a protection factor adapted to your skin type every two hours and immediately after swimming. Don’t expose yourself any longer.
- Primarily protect children and adolescents.
- Don’t try to prepare your skin for the sun by exposing yourself to UV tanning lamps.