Skin cancer is combing the ranks among the biggest killers in the world. Skin cancer has the potential to affect both male and females and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is averaged that 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer at some point during their lives. This makes it one of the more commonly diagnosed forms of cancer. In terms of a diagnosis, there are two different types of skin cancer, non-melanoma and melanoma. The non-melanoma cancer is localized and isolated to one area of the body, identifiable by the presence of a tumor. Melanoma, however, is skin cancer that has invaded other skin tissues and areas of the body, making it much more dangerous and difficult to treat. This article will be looking specifically at the signs and symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer, as well as going into the details of how it is caused.
What causes skin cancer?
Skin cancer is majorly an effect that results from excess or prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. UV radiation is incredibly high in energy and ranks alongside X-Rays and Gamma Rays, as the most dangerous radiation sources to living organisms and human health. The property that makes UV radiation so potent is that is is an ionising form of radiation. This means that it can cause direct damage to body cells and DNA. Any deformations or mutations may result in the out of control and rapid process of uncontrolled mitosis (cell division). It is this division of body cells that makes up the foundations of all cancers. As the skin can be easily exposed to the sun at high intensities, it is no surprise that cancer developing on the skin is so common. Areas such as arms, shoulders, ears and the face are the most common location for non-melanoma skin tumors to occur – due to their more exposed position in relation to the sun.
What are the symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer?
The most commonly identifiable sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is the appearance of a skin discoloration or a lump that is persistent and does not go down or heal over time. This area of affected skin or tissue is the tumor. The term used for tumors that are cancerous in nature is ‘malignant’ – these are masses of tissue that have grown abnormally and the cells within them are still dividing in an uncontrolled manner.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)–In comparison to the discolored patch of skin displayed by non-melanoma tumors, BCC has a more aggravated appearance. Usually, it is a pink or red lump that can be scabby in nature. BCC lumps can grow and develop slowly, becoming more scabbed overtime.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – This form of skin cancer has the appearance of a small, firmer lump which is pink in color. As with BCC, SCC can look scabbed or crusty in appearance, however, it can bleed more easily and will be more tender in response to touch than BCC.