Skin cancer – Causes, symptoms and treatment

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What is Skin cancer?

The growth of abnormal skin cells in an uncontrolled way leads to skin cancer. Overexposure to the sun (UV rays) is one of the causes of Skin cancer.

What are the types of Skin cancer?

The classification of Skin cancer is characterized by the place where the cancer cells start their growth. It helps the doctors to identify the location which aids in diagnosis and suitable treatment. The following are the common types of Skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma is a common Skin cancer that begins its growth in the basal cell. The cells are located in the outermost layer of skin which produces new skin cells as the old cells die.

Squamous cell carcinoma is a common type of Skin Cancer. Here the cancer cells develop in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layer of the skin.

Melanoma is the condition where cancer develops in melanocytes, the cells that give the skin colour. Any part of the skin is likely to get affected by melanoma cancer. Treatment is necessary for melanoma cancer or else it will spread to another part of the body.

Merkel cell carcinoma develops in the cells that give the touch sensory to the skin. It is a rare type of Skin Cancer.  

What causes Skin cancer?

As mentioned, cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. The abnormal growth is because of the mutation that occurred in the DNA of skin cells. The normal skin cells die after completing their task, but these abnormal cells continue their living and growth, thus forming a mass of cancer cells.

In most cases, the damage to the DNA occurs by overexposure to UV rays. Other than UV rays, the causes of skin cancer are unclear. Even the unexposed part of the skin develops a high risk of getting affected by Skin cancer.

What are the symptoms of Skin cancer?

Most cancers are diagnosed only in the second and third stages. In the case of skin cancer, it can be detected earlier. Pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • The appearance of the lump (shiny red or pink colour)
  • Reddish patch of skin
  • A flat flesh-coloured lesion
  • A firm red nodule
  • A mole that changes colour and size
  • A lesion that itches burn or feels like it might bleed
  • Patches of skin that look like scars
  • Change in skin colour
  • Open sore
  • Dissimilar new mark on the skin

How is Skin cancer diagnosed?

If you suspect the above symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. Diagnosis of Skin cancer usually begins with a physical examination. Then follows a discussion about family medical history and the symptoms of skin cancer. The following brings in the other methods that involve the diagnosis of Skin cancer.

  • Physical examination to observe the affected area to check for cancer and other allergies caused by infection.
  • A biopsy is a surgical process of removing a piece of tissue from the affected area to check for cancer cells.
  • Imagery tests such as CT scans, MRIs and X-rays are used to locate, determine and to check the severity of cancer.

What are the treatments for Skin cancer?

The treatments may vary according to location, size, severity, age and current health condition of an individual. The treatments performed to cure skin cancer include,


A biopsy is a common and vital diagnosis method for cancer. It also helps to treat cancer but only at its early stages.


Cryotherapy treatment uses liquid nitrogen to freeze cancer cells. The applied liquid nitrogen freezes the cancer cells in the body and the dead cells are discarded after the treatment.

Excisional surgery

Excisional surgery aims to cut the cancer cells and the surrounding healthy skin cells to prevent cancer from recurring.

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is the most effective treatment for treating the two most common Skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. This surgery makes sure to remove the cancerous cells sparing the healthy cells.

Curettage and electrodesiccation

This surgery procedure uses a large looped shaped instrument to scrape the cancer cells then an electric needle is used to kill the remaining cancer cells.


A treatment method uses anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells. The anti-cancer drugs are taken orally or injected into the veins.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy treatment processes use high radiation (X-ray beams) to kill the cancer cells and prevent them from recurring.

Photodynamic therapy

The Photodynamic therapy method uses laser light and drugs to kill cancer cells. In this process, the skin is coated with medication then blue or red fluorescent light is used to activate the medication to kill the abnormal or cancer cells.


It is advisable to check for abnormalities and reach out to a doctor immediately. As the skin is the visible organ, it is helpful to detect the symptoms of Skin cancer right away that indicate a medical emergency.   

Despite the nature and type of cancer, the causes are unclear. The only way to protect yourself from cancer is to have regular health checkups. 


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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