Skin Cancer . . . . . . Are you waiting for that spot to Disappear?
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of the body? In terms of body weight it is between 6 and 9 pounds and the surface area is more than 2 square meters. Your skin separates the inside of your body from the outside world. As the skin is the protective barrier against the outside, it is always being attacked. Over exposure to sunlight is by far the biggest danger to our skin with basal cell carcinoma and squamos cell carcinoma being the most common types of cancer. Foreigners with light skin living in Thailand are highly susceptible to the dangers of the strong sunlight and should be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.
The term ‘non-melanoma’ distinguishes these more common kinds of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which spreads faster in the body.
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn’t heal after a few weeks.
In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly.
See your GP if you have any skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks. Although it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to have it checked out by a dermatologist.
Types of non-melanoma skin cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop. The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:
basal cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis and accounts for about 75% of skin cancers
squamos cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis and accounts for about 20% of skin cancers
Why does it happen?
The exact cause of non-melanoma skin cancer is unknown, although it is linked with overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
UV light comes from the sun, as well as artificial sunbeds and sunlamps.
In addition to UV light overexposure, there are some things that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, such as:
a family history of the condition
pale skin that burns easily
a large number of moles or freckles
Who is affected?
Non-melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. There are an estimated 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer every year in the UK.
Non-melanoma skin cancer affects slightly more men than women.
Your GP can examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. They may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist) or a specialist plastic surgeon if they are unsure or suspect skin cancer.
The specialist will examine your skin again and will perform a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer.
A biopsy is an operation that removes some affected skin so it can be studied under a microscope.
Treating non-melanoma skin cancer
Surgery is the main treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer. This involves removing the cancerous tumor and some of the surrounding skin.
Other treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include cryotherapy, creams, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a treatment known as photodynamic therapy (PDT).
Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is generally successful as, unlike most other types of cancer, there is a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.
It is estimated that basal cell carcinoma will spread to other parts of the body in less than 0.5% of cases. The risk is slightly higher in cases of squamos cell carcinoma, which spreads to other parts of the body in about 4% of cases.
Treatment for basal cell carcinoma is completely successful in approximately 90% of cases. Between 70% and 90% of people with squamos cell carcinoma will be completely cured.
If you would like to see a dermatologist or should you require more information on skin cancer then please contact the Dermatology Department at Phyathai Sriracha Hospital on International direct line no: 087 1000990 Email: [email protected] www.phyathai-sriracha.com