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What type of Skin Cancer can Kill You?

Cancer Treatment - VishwaRaj Hospital

One of the most prevalent cancer types is skin cancer. It occurs due to an uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells in the skin. It usually appears on the face, scalp, chest, hands, ears, lips, etc. Skin cancers can occur regardless of the type of skin tone.

There are three main categories of skin cancer. These are – 

  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Apart from these, there are also some less common types of skin cancer. These are – sebaceous gland carcinoma ,Kaposi sarcoma, , dermatofibrosarcoma protruberans, and Merkel cell tumors.

Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and Melanoma are all malignant cancer types. However, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are not as aggressive as Melanoma. It is because they are limited to a particular area and are curable. But, if left untreated, these can also have fatal consequences.

Symptoms of different types of skin cancer

The development of skin cancer generally occurs in sun-exposed areas. It includes lips, neck, scalp, ears, chest, hands, legs, etc. However, it can develop in areas that are hidden from the sun too. For instance, underneath the fingernails, genital region, palms, etc. 

There is a misconception regarding the occurrence of skin cancer and skin tones. But, in reality, skin cancer can develop in people with varied skin tones. There are various types of skin cancers manifesting a wide range of symptoms. 

1.Squamous cell carcinoma –

Usually, squamous cell carcinoma develops in the areas exposed to the sun, like the face, hands, legs, face, etc. However, people who have dark complexions can have it in the non-exposed regions. The symptoms include-

  • Flat lesions with crusted and scaly surface
  • Red nodule (it appears firm)

2.Basal cell carcinoma-

Basal cell carcinoma also develops in regions such as the neck, lips, and face. These are the areas that get the maximum exposure to the sunlight. Some of the symptoms are – 

Recurrence of ulcers (though it will heal)

  • Waxy or pearly bumps
  • Bleeding ulcer that is also crusting
  • Flat scar-like lesions (it will have a brownish appearance)
 

3.Basal cell carcinoma-

Melanoma can occur in people in having different skin tones. It can also develop in areas that do not get any exposure to sunlight. Moreover, it can occur anywhere in the body. In men, this cancer type can develop in the face. However, for women, it is usually the lower legs. People having dark skin tomes can have melanoma in the soles, palms, and underneath the nails. 

  • There are several symptoms of Melanoma. Some of them are –
  • Itching lesions (it may also cause a burning sensation and is quite painful)
  • Brownish spot (large and accompanied by dark speckles)
  • Small lesions with an irregular border around them (some portion may appear blue-black, red, blue, or white)
  • Changes in an existing mole (there can be alteration sin size, color, and texture. It might also bleed.)
  • Dark lesions on mouth, palms, nose, soles, vagina, fingertips, anus, and toes

4.Merkel cell carcinoma

The Merkel cell carcinoma occurs as shiny nodules underneath the hair follicles and skin. It is also known as neuroendocrine carcinoma. The exact cause of this type of skin cancer is still an ongoing research topic. However, scientists have found that Merkel cell polyomavirus contributes to the development of cancer. But, without more details, nothing can be said with certainty. 

The painless nodule is the foremost symptom of Merkel cell carcinoma. Now, the coloration can be red, purple, blue, or skin-colored. These mostly appear on the neck, face, etc. However, they can also develop in any other body part. 

5.Kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi sarcoma is a rare kind of skin cancer. The cancer is due to the HSV-8 (herpes simplex virus 8). It develops in the blood vessels of the skin. In the majority of the cases, cancer occurs in people suffering from weak immune systems. For instance, people who have AIDS or taking medications that can interfere with natural immunity. It is also prevalent amongst patients that have opted for organ transplants. 

The symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma manifest as a lesion. These have reddish-brown, purple or red coloration and appear on the mucous membrane or skin. 

6.Sebaceous gland carcinoma

Though rare, sebaceous gland carcinoma is quite aggressive. It occurs in the sebaceous or the glands of the skin. These mainly affect the eyelids. 

The symptoms of this cancer type are the formation of a lump (painless) on the skin. It can also appear as a thickening of the skin. However, as cancer spreads, it can cause bleeding. If the lump occurs in any other body part, it may have a yellowish coloration.

Can skin cancer kill you?

Amongst all the skin cancer types, melanoma is the most aggressive one. It has a tendency to expand to different body parts. The other types are much less dangerous and are locally invasive. However, they can also spread to other body parts. The difference is the nature of aggressiveness. It is also what makes melanoma more fatal than other skin cancer types. 

There are also some risk factors that can enhance the potential of skin cancer. Some of them include – too much sun exposure, moles, actinic keratoses, etc. 

It is vital to ensure self-examination from time to time. You must look out for changes in moles, ulcers, abnormalities in the skin, stubborn inflammation, etc. It can all lead to skin cancer. The earliest detection can help in getting the right treatment. If you can treat cancer in the early stages, there are high chances of survival.

Conclusion

There are different types of skin cancer. However, the ones that are malignant are the most dangerous. Even amongst the malignant type, it is melanoma that raises maximum concern. It is very aggressive and can often kill patients. However, with the knowledge of the symptoms and self-awareness, you can detect early signs. 

Even slight changes in the skin must be taken seriously. The more early the diagnosis occurs, the higher are the chances of full recovery. With the advent of technology in the medical field, the survival rates are becoming higher every day. 

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