Through this website, we want to address all of your doubts about skin cancer, and discuss the different types, their symptoms, their origin and their treatment options. The medical and scientific information is provided by Dr. Gastón Cornu Labat. He is an USA medical doctor and surgeon specialized in non-melanoma skin cancer treatment. And he is the one to provide all the scientific information, advice and clarifications to your questions throughout the website based in his years of clinical experience.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells that do not respect their normal functions and cycles. These abnormal growing cells tend to duplicate, grow, destroy surrounding tissues, invade and, eventually in some instances, depart from the original group doing then the same in other parts of the body. This last is known as metastasis.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in humans. Globally there are more skin cancer cases than all other cancers combined. Due to this we consider of vital importance to make this information available to you.
The different types of proliferative lesions that help define what is skin cancer
Different types of proliferative lesions or abnormal growths of the different skin cells exist. These lesions can have a benign or malignant behavior, but some benign lesions have the potential to become malignant and are known as premalignant. Most of these concerning lesions, malignant or premalignant, are mainly associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation, mainly from the sun.
Benign skin lesions are commonly classified as pigmented or not pigmented, depending if they have excess melanin (dark color) or normal skin color.
The most common pigmented benign lesions are:
- And sun or age spots
They are typically uniform in color, flat in the case of solar spots or freckles, or raised as with moles, and with uniform borders. This said moles can be flat. Common benign skin lesions with no excess pigment are warts, amelanotic moles and epidermoid cysts.
For other part, another type of benign skin lesions are keratosis. These are abnormal proliferations of keratinocytes, also known as squamous cells, the skin cells that form the outermost layer of the skin. The most common types are actinic or solar and seborrheic keratosis. Keratoacanthomas are benign tumors of similar origin.
Actinic keratosis (AK) are considered premalignant lesions because they can develop into squamous cell carcinomas in about 10% of cases. AK is very common and its incidence varies by country and population and in some areas affects up to 50% of the aging population.
It is recommended that AK be treated due to its potential to develop into cancer. Conventional treatments for Actinic Keratosis are the same as those available for the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers. As explained later, there exists also a natural treatment that is highly effective and safe both for keratosis and keratoacanthomas: Curaderm BCC
Types of skin cancer
Understanding the different types of skin cancers helps in the comprehension of what is skin cancer. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma.
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common forms of skin cancers and are known as non-melanoma skin cancers. On the other hand, melanoma (malignant) is the most serious form of skin cancer because it tends to spread (metastasize) early. Overall, 80% of skin cancers are basal cell, 16% are squamous cell, and 4% are melanomas.
The most common causes of cancer in general, are elements or circumstances of the environment that affect cells and their genetics (DNA) and lead them to initiate the abnormal growths already described.
In the case of non-melanoma skin cancers, the environmental factors that have been identified as causes are:
- Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds
- Therapeutic radiation such as x-rays and radiation therapy for cancer
- Chemical toxins like arsenic
- Immunosuppressive medications
- Diets low in antioxidants
What are the risk factors for developing skin cancer?
The best-known risk factors are sun exposure, age, and light skin tone. Fair-skinned and elderly people are at higher risk of developing basal cell carcinomas. The face is the area of the body where these cancers most commonly appear. This is because it is the area of the body most exposed to the sun.
About 20% of these skin cancers appear on areas of the skin less commonly exposed to the sun, such as the chest, back, extremities and scalp.
The regions of the planet with the highest incidence of solar radiation throughout the year and a predominance of fair skin in the population are those with the highest incidence of basal cell carcinoma per inhabitant. For example: Australia has one of the highest per capita incidences of these cancers in the world.
It is also known of a certain genetic predisposition. For example: People of Celtic and Northern European descent are at increased risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.
Continue in: What are the signs and symptoms of skin cancer?