09 Jul What is Skin Cancer?
This information is provided by Dr. Navneet Sharda as an educational source pertaining to skin cancer. It is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.
Dr. Navneet Sharda provides this information as an educational source.It is not intended as a substitute for a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.
Skin cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the skin tissue. It occurs when certain cells called malignant cells start to grow and divide faster than normal resulting in tumors. There are 3 main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Nanveet Sharda an oncologist in Las Vegas tells ust that skin structure is composed from three main layers:
1. Epidermis, which is the outer, thin layer of skin. The epidermis is formed from four layer of cells
2. Dermis is the middle layer of skin and contains the following: blood and lymph vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands, collagen bundles, fibroblasts, nerves, and pain and touch receptors. This layer of skin is held together by the collagen.
3. Subcutaneous fat layer is the deepest layer of skin and is formed from a collagen network and fat cells. It plays two essential roles: conserves the heat of the body and protects the body from injuries.
Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Like any other type of cancer, skin cancer involves certain signs and symptoms. The most common signs that can be noticed by a patient before consulting a doctor are:
- Changes in color and size of a mole, a new skin growth, bump or node.
- Changes in the skin color of the surrounding areas of the mole (the skin can become red or swollen, or the pigmentation will spread beyond the border of the spot, mark or mole)
- Appearance changes like a scaly, oozing, bleeding, fragile, and a crusted or ulcerated look.
- Sensation changes of the mole, skin growth or bump skin like itching, burning, tenderness or painful sensation
Types Skin cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but more commonly develops in areas that are more exposed to the sunlight like face skin, neck skin, hands or arms skin.
There are three types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It develops in the deepest layer of the epidermis. It usually occurs in areas exposed more often to the sun like the nose. Initially, the tumor looks like a small, smooth and pearly bump or as a flat and firm scar. This type of cancer can spread to adjacent areas and rarely to other parts of the body.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is another common type of skin cancer that develops in the keratinocytes layer of the epidermis. It usually occurs in those regions of the skin more exposed to the sun, like ears, lower lip, and back of the hands, or in areas of the skin that have been burned or exposed to chemicals and radiation. This type of cancer appears as a red firm or scaly bump that can bleed or form a crust.
- Melanoma is the most virulent form of skin cancer. It occurs in the lower layer of the epidermis when melanocytes (the pigment cells) become malignant and grow and divide abnormally. This type of cancer can spread to other areas and organs of the body through the lymph vessels (phase called metastatic melanoma) if not treated.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous carcinoma stages:
Stage 0: For basal cell carcinoma this is called carcionama in situ: The tumor is limited to the epidermis. For squamous carcinoma, this is called squamous carcinoma in situ or Bowen’s disease: It is the first stage of the squamous carcinoma when the tumor is limited to the squamous cells.
Stage 1: The tumor has less than 2 centimeters size and has not spread to the lymph node or other organs.
Stage 2: The tumor is larger than 2 centimeters and has not spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.
Stage 3: The tumor has spread to the nearby tissue under the skin like muscles, bones or cartilage, or to the lymph nodes.
Stage 4: The cancer spread to distant organs in the body.
Stage 0: Melanoma in situ: The tumor is confined to the epidermis and has not spread to nearby areas.
Stage IA: The melanoma has less than 0.75 mm.
Stage IB: The melanoma is thicker than 0.75 mm but less than 1.5 mm.
Stage IIA: The melanoma is thicker than 1.5 mm but less than 4 mm.
Stage III: The melanoma has spread to nearby nodes or less than 5 mm in-transit metastases.
Stage IV: The tumor spread to other parts of the body.
Medical Tests & Diagnosis
Skin cancer can be detected through a skin examination. There are two types of skin examinations:
Self-examination: Performed by the patient before consulting a specialist if suspicious moles or lesions occur.
Examination performed by a specialist: During a skin examintation, a dermatologist uses a dermoscope (a microscope-like device) to closely examine the moles and skin lesions.
If the doctor suspects that a mole or skin lesion is cancer, a biopsy will be performed. A biopsy is a diagnosis procedure that involves surgical removal of the whole lesion or only a certain amount of abnormal tissue for a microscopic laboratory investigation. For skin cancer, a biopsy is a minor procedure that is performed under local anesthesia.
There are three types of biopsies:
Excisional biopsy: The entire tumor with the surrounding skin is removed. This type of biopsy is performed when the tumor is suspected to be melanoma.
Incisional biopsy: Only a part of the lesion is removed. This type of biopsy is performed when the lesion is too large or the location requires a maximum tissue preservation.
Nail bed biopsy: This type of procedure is performed if the cancer might be located under the nail. This biopsy is performed in two steps: first, part or all the toenail or fingernail is removed and second, an excisional or incisional biopsy is performed to remove the suspected tissue.
The biopsy will determine if the tissue removed is cancerous or not, and also can establish the cancer cells type.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
There are several types of standard treatment used in treating skin cancer:
Surgery: Surgery options for skin cancer include:
Mohs micrographic surgery: A medical procedure that removes the tumor in thin layers. Each layer of the tumor removed is checked under a microscope for cancer cells and the procedure will continue until there are no more cancer cells in the removed layer
Simple excision: A medical procedure that removes the tumor along with some healthy skin around the tumor location.
Shave excision: A medical procedure which uses a small blade to shave off the tumor.
Electrodesiccation and curettage: This medical procedure involves two steps. First, the tumor is removed with a currette – a sharp, spoon-shaped medical instrument. Second, the operated area is treated afterwards with a needle-shaped electrode that sends out an electric current.
Cryosurgery or cryptotherapy: This procedure uses a special instrument that destroys the cancer tissues by freezing them with liquid-nitrogen.
Laser surgery: A medical procedure that uses a laser beam to remove the tumor.
Radiation therapy uses high focused x-rays to destroy the cancer cells. This type of treatment cannot cure advanced skin cancer, but it can shrink the tumor. It is used as the only treatment option for those patients that are good candidates for surgery.
Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment (affects cells throughout the entire body) that uses drugs that either stop the abnormal growth and dividing process of the cancerous cells or kills the cancer cells.
Biological therapy (biotherapy or immunotherapy) is a type of treatment that uses the immune system of the patient to fight against cancer. It is mostly used as an adjuvant therapy after the tumor was removed through surgery.
Photodynamic therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a certain drug, that is absorbed by the cancer cells, and a special type of laser light to then kill the cancer cells which absorbed the drug. The drug is injected into the body through the vein and becomes active only when the skin is exposed to the laser light killing the cancer cells.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Navneet Sharda call 702-547-2273 or click here.
Oncologist Dr. NavneetSharda is the medical director of Cancer Care Center. For more than a decade Cancer Care Center has been specializing in treatment of various types of cancers like multiforme, meningioma, tonsil, tongue, laryngeal, parotid, neck, lung, breast, lymphoma, non hodgkins lymphoma, hodgkins disease, hodgkins lymphoma, skin cancer, melanoma, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, colon, renal, kidney, ovarian, sarcoma, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal, brain, breast, vulvar cancer, bone metastasis, bone, osteosarcoma, endometrial cancercarcinoma, tumor, malignant and cancerous Cancers. We offer threapy like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, radiation therapy, radiation oncology, oncology, oncologist, immunotherapy, brachy therapy, stereotactic radio surgery, IMRT, intensity modulated radiation therapy, conformal therapy, anaplasticastrocytoma, gioblastoma.