The skin consists of 2 layers. The epidermis is the top layer of the skin. It protects the body from external factors. It prevents water, electrolyte and heat loss. The dermis is under the epidermis. Hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands, vessels and nerves are in this layer. Deeper, there is subcutaneous adipose tissue.
Skin cancers can originate from the basal layer of the epidermis or from the upper cell layers. Although skin cancers are mostly on the head and neck, they can occur on the entire skin surface. Sun-exposed areas of the body are more candidates for skin cancers.
The main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet rays from the sun. Electric lamps that emit ultraviolet rays and artificial tanning light sources can also cause skin cancers. It is a known fact that the thinning of the ozone layer, which protects the world against ultraviolet rays, causes a serious increase in skin cancers.
From this perspective, those most at risk
Those who freckle easily on their skin,
Having too many moles (nevi) and their different shapes and sizes,
Those with a family history of skin cancer
Those who spend a lot of time outdoors
Those near the equator, at high altitudes, or exposed to intense sunlight throughout the year.
Radioactive radiation therapy (radiotherapy) applications for any reason,
Open wounds that remain unhealed for many years,
Tar, pitch, arsenic etc. Chronic exposure to chemical carcinogens such as
Skin cancers may also develop due to exposure to chronic microtraumas.
What are their types?
- Basal Cell Cancer (BCC) originating from basal cells in the epidermis
- Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC) originating from squamous (squamous) cells
- Malignant Melanoma (MM) originating from melanocytes (cells that produce melanin)
BCC; It is the most common skin cancer. It grows in years. It does not metastasize. BCC is rarely life-threatening. It is often seen in older men. It is located in areas such as the nose and cheeks, which are protruding areas on the face.
SCC; It is another common type of skin cancer. It is common on the lips, face and ears. It may occur as non-healing sores and crusts on the lower lip, especially in smokers. It can spread to the lymph nodes and sometimes to the internal organs. SCC becomes life-threatening if left untreated.
Malignant melanomas ( MM ), the third type of skin cancer, are less common. However, its incidence is increasing, especially in those living in sunny areas. It is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. However, if it is detected early, there is a chance that it can be fully cured. Delay in diagnosis and treatment is often fatal.
Are there other skin tumors that can become cancerous?
Two common skin tumors that should be known are moles and keratoses. Moles are formed by clusters of heavily pigmented skin cells.
Sometimes it is raised from the skin, sometimes it is at the same level with the skin. Sometimes it is present from birth. Sometimes it can happen later. Although most of them are not in danger, large and hairy giant moles that have been present since birth and moles of different colors and whose borders cannot be clearly distinguished carry the risk of transforming into malignant melanoma.
For cosmetic reasons,
If they are constantly irritated by clothing and jewelry,
They are surgically removed because of the possibility of transforming into malignant melanoma.
Solar or actinic keratoses are skin tumors that appear as brown or red patches with rough or scaly surfaces. They are usually seen on sun-exposed areas of the skin. There is a possibility that these will turn into cancer. Those showing signs of transformation into cancer should be surgically removed.
How are skin cancers recognized?
Basal and Squamous Cell Cancers can have various appearances.
In the form of a small mass of white and pink color,
Its surface is smooth, shiny or pitted,
Dry, scaly, in the form of a red spot,
Crusted, red, tuberous,
In the form of small masses side by side with crustaceans,
They can be in the form of a white patch that looks like a scar.
It is necessary to consider that such lesions that do not heal in 2-4 weeks, can cause bleeding and pain, may be cancer.
Malignant Melanoma can usually start from a mole or normal skin.
The following changes that occur in any mole should be accepted as warning criteria for cancer.
Being in different color tones
An abnormal increase in size of more than 6 mm.
Moles with one or more of these changes should be surgically removed and subjected to histopathological examination for Malignant Melanoma.
If all these variables seem complicated to you, it is very important to remember that.
Get to know your skin and inspect it regularly from head to toe. If you come across anything that makes you suspicious, consult a Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon immediately! Plastic surgeons surgically remove the tumor without disturbing the functional structure and in a way that provides the most aesthetic appearance. With the histopathological examination of the removed tissue, it can be understood whether it can be completely removed and whether there is any residue on the ground.
How is the treatment?
Treatment varies according to the type of cancer, growth stage and location. If the cancer is small, the procedure can be easily performed on an outpatient basis, under local anesthesia. In these small and less dangerous types, scraping (curettage) or desiccation of cancer cells with electric current can also be performed. However, these methods are less reliable in terms of treatment, and they are more likely to leave scars and deform.
Major surgical procedures may be needed if the cancer is large, has spread to the lymph nodes or to another part of the body.
Before starting treatment, you should evaluate these methods with your doctor and seek answers to the following questions.
Which treatment method is safer in terms of destroying the tumor?
Which option suits you better?
How effective is it for your type of cancer?
What are the possible risks and side effects?
To what extent can the functional and cosmetic results you expect be achieved?
Will there be a recurrence? Can recurrence be prevented?
Skin cancers can recur. However, it is possible to reduce the risk of recurrence or reduce the risk of recurrence that may occur. For this:
Follow the regular check-ups your doctor calls.
Avoid sun exposure, especially between 11:00 and 15:00 in the summer months.
Remember that ultraviolet rays can pass through water and clouds and reflect off sand and snow.
If you need to be outside for a long time, wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved dresses.
For exposed skin areas, use creams with a sun protection factor of at least 30. Continue to use these creams at regular intervals after swimming and sweating.
Finally, examine your skin regularly. If you have any doubts, consult your plastic surgeon as soon as possible.