Skin cancer is a common occurrence around the world, with 20-30 lakh non-melanoma skin cancers and 1.3 lakh melanoma skin cancers diagnosed annually. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the types, risk factors, symptoms, and tests that help in early detection. Dr. Sachin Gupta, a consultant at the Department of Dermatology at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, highlights the need for awareness about skin cancer and ways to reduce its risk.
Types of Skin Cancer
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type and forms in the basal cells found in the outermost layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma usually occurs on sun-exposed areas and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Melanoma is the most aggressive type, characterized by the appearance of abnormal moles or dark spots on the skin, and can spread to other organs.
Identifying Risk Factors
Dr. Gupta emphasizes the need to identify common risk factors associated with skin cancer, such as a family history of skin cancer, shiny skin that burns easily, excessive sun exposure, and a weak immune system.
Symptoms to Look Out For
It is essential to be aware of the symptoms of skin cancer, including abnormal changes in the appearance of the skin, the growth of new or existing moles, changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of the skin, and sores that do not heal or continue to bleed, itch, or crust.
Regular skin exams and screenings are advised for people who are at high risk of developing skin cancer. Using a special magnifying instrument, doctors carefully check for any changes and take small skin samples for microscopic examination if something suspicious is found.
Reducing the Risk
Dr. Gupta recommends staying in the shade when the sun is strong, wearing a hat and sunglasses, and using a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every day. It is also essential to remember to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, especially if you sweat or swim.
Skin cancer is a prevalent disease that requires awareness about its various types, risk factors, symptoms, tests, and ways to reduce its risk. Regular skin exams, sun protection measures, and visits to the dermatologist can help prevent and detect skin cancer early, increasing the chances of successful treatment and complete recovery.
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