Skin not only protects us from heat, sunlight, injury and infection but it also helps in controlling our body temperature. I also stores body fat and water. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It can cause due to excessive exposure in sunlight.
There are many layers of skin. Skin cancer origins from the epidermis, made of squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes. Skin cancer is very rare in India, ranking below 15 among all other types of cancer.
Skin cancer treatment in India
There are various procedures for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. In recent years, India has become a hub for skin cancer treatment. Patients across the globe visit India due for treatment of skin cancer, due to affordability of cost as compared to their foreign counterparts. India is a powerhouse in health sector.
The medical tourism in India is flourishing as it offers treatment of the highest standard at costs approximately 65% lower than in UK and US. There are many quality hospitals and clinics in India. There are many cities in India that offer skin cancer surgery for international patients such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Kerala, Nagpur, Gurgaon, Jaipur among others. Mumbai is extremely renowned for skin cancer treatment. There are various hospitals like Tata Memorial, Fortis, Apollo, etc. especially Tata Memorial Hospital which is considered by many as the best cancer hospital in Mumbai.
Types of skin cancer
There are mainly two types of skin cancer:-
It is more aggressive than non-melanoma skin cancers and spreads more rapidly.
Squamous cells and basal cells skin cancer are non-melanoma skin cancers. It does not spread to other body parts like melanoma skin cancer.
Symptoms of skin cancer
Skin cancer generally develops on areas exposed to sun such as hands, lips, arms, face, legs, scalp, ears, neck, chest, etc. But it can also form on areas not exposed to sunlight. It is found to affect people of all skin complexions.
Skin cancer is often painless and appears as a small red or pink lump. It usually starts with a dark spot. It may indicate skin cancer when:
- Does not heal even after four weeks
- Gets bigger in size
- Changes shape and colour
- Itchy and painful
Stages of skin cancer
- Stage 0 - top layer of skin is affected
- Stage 1 - skin less than 2cm is affected
- Stage 2 - skin more than 2cm is affected
- Stage 3 - tissues and lymph nodes are affected
- Stage 4 - other parts of body are also affected
Causes of skin cancer
- Over exposure to UV rays
- Fair skins burn easily
- Previously affected by skin cancer
- Skin cancer among close relatives
- Long-term exposure to chemicals such as coal tar, pitch, arsenic, etc.
Diagnosis of skin cancer
- There are various diagnostic techniques used to detect skin cancer:
- Mole mapping-Diagrams or photographs of the body are made in order to document moles and growth, for timely monitoring.
- Dermoscopy-It is a hand-held instrument which is used to magnify and light up a lesion for a physician.
- Biopsy-A sample of the skin tissue is taken for analysis in the laboratory by a pathologist. A sentinel lymph node biopsy is recommended, if the cancer invades deeply into the skin.Biopsy identifies the lymph node and if no cancer cells are found in the sentinel lymph node, then there is very less chance of cancer spreading in other parts of the body.
- Scans-X rays, CT scans, PET scans and blood tests are performed to detect the spread of skin cancer.
- Blood tests-It is done to identify skin cancer among those patients who have a family history of melanoma.
Treatment of skin cancer
Treatment or surgery depends upon the type of skin cancer, its location, and age of the patient. Below are some of the most common types of treatment:
- Freezing or cryosurgery
- Excisional surgery
- Mohs surgery
- Biological therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
- Carbon dioxide laser
- Systematic Retinoids
- Electrocautery and cutterage
Is skin colour a probable cause of skin cancer?
It is wrongly believed by many that those having fair skin have a higher chance of skin cancer. Both fair and dark-skinned individuals are equally vulnerable to skin cancer. According to a research by Adam Friedman dark skin provides more protection against UV rays since it has more pigment-making cells. However, those who have a dark skin have a greater risk of late detection and lower survival rates.
So, it is quite important to raise awareness about skin cancer regarding colour. Skin cancer has a high chance of getting cured when detected at an early stage.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
- How is skin cysts different from skin tumours?
Skin cancer refers to the growth of masses on the skin, having threat of spreading locally. On the other hand, skin cysts refers to the non-cancerous growth filled with fluid. Cysts occur under the skin surface and feel smooth. They roll under the skin when they are pressed.
- How to diagnose skin cancer at an early stage?
In order to diagnose skin cancer early it requires a proper examination of the skin for growth and dry patches. Dermoscope is used for identifying skin structures.
- Is the exposure to UV rays responsible for skin cancer? Yes, UV rays can cause skin cancer by causing damage to DNA.
- Is there any non-surgical treatment for skin cancer?
Apart from surgery, there are various options available for treating skin cancer such as chemotherapy, cryotherapy, immunotherapy, etc. However, surgery is highly recommended and best way to treat skin cancer.
- Are there any side effects of skin cancer treatment?
There are various risks and side effects associated with skin cancer. It can cause pain, scars, nerve damage, recurrence of cancer, etc.