Surgical Dermatology: Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer – Funny Moles, Non healing growths

skincancer

Believe it or not, Skin Cancer is on the rise all over the world. It has varying appearances in the differently coloured races across the world.

Those with fair coloured skin are the most susceptible to this malady. They have to protect themselves from undue excess sun exposure that will make their moles change colour and turn cancerous. It is found that the war veterans from the world wars are now presenting with skin cancers of various types after so many years.

Tanning parlours are proving to be a curse for the fair skinned youngsters as it is leading to an increase in skin cancers. Worldwide there have been an outcry to ban the tanning parlours.

The darker skinned races are fortunate that they can take in a lot of sun before it can cause any form of skin cancer. However, the type of melanoma that is common in them is the Acral Lentiginous type which presents as a dark mole on hands and feet and under nail beds.

Skin Cancer can be of two types: Melanoma & Non Melanoma (Basal Cell carcinoma & Squamous Cell Carcinoma). These types of cancers behave differently and hence their management varies as per the diagnosis. In most cases, the skin cancer has to be surgically removed and an extensive followup with the dermatologist is advised to look for recurrence. In some cases, where surgery is not feasible, Radiotherapy can be tried as an alternative.

A dermatologist is the only person trained to identify and manage skin cancers.

Moles can change their character on excess exposure to UV rays. This is more common in individuals who go sun bathing or use tanning parlours. Any mole that has undergone a sudden change in size, shape and colour or is bleeding and itchy needs to be looked at urgently by a dermatologist trained in skin cancer.

The Non Melanoma Skin Cancers present as an ulcer or growth that does heal with any treatment. Long standing ulcers on legs and even burns scars can turn cancerous with due course of time. These are indications for an urgent appointment with the dermatologist as delay can allow spread of the cancer on the whole body.

Diagnosis of the skin cancer can be done with the help of a Skin Biopsy wherein a small piece of skin is taken under local anaesthesia and sent for examination under the microscope.