- What is skin cancer?
- Skin cancer is a broad term that refers to any type of cancer that begins in the cells of the skin. These cancers usually develop in the top layer of skin, also known as the epidermis.
- There are three major types of skin cancers:
- basal cell carcinoma (BCC),
- squamous cell carcinoma (SCC),
- The first two skin cancers are grouped together as non-melanoma skin cancers. Other unusual types of skin cancer include Merkel cell tumors and dermatofibrosarcoma protruberans In addition, there are several types of skin cancers that occur much less frequently, including kaposi sarcoma, merkel cell carcinoma, cutaneous (skin) lymphoma, skin adnexal tumors and various types of sarcomas.
- Types of skin cancer
- Skin cancer may initially appear as a bump, nodule or irregular patch on the surface of the skin. As the cancer grows, the size or shape of the visible skin mass may change. As these visible changes are occurring, the cancer is likely expanding and moving into the lower layers of the skin.
- If left untreated, skin cancer will continue to grow down into the dermis and the subcutaneous tissues. In the most advanced stages, skin cancer may spread into nearby muscle tissue, cartilage or bone. Once the cancer spreads into the blood or lymph fluids, it may reach other areas in the body, like the liver or lungs.
watch this 2 min video on the 3 types of skin cancer cells
Skin Cancer Causes
- Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, most commonly from sunlight, is overwhelmingly the most frequent cause of skin cancer.Other important causes of skin cancer include the following:
- Use of tanning booths
- Immunosuppression, or impairment of the immune system, which protects the body from germs or substances that cause an allergic reaction
- Exposure to unusually high levels of radiation, such as from X-rays
- Contact with certain chemicals, such as arsenic (miners, sheep shearers, and farmers) and hydrocarbons in tar, oils, and soot (which may cause squamous cell carcinoma)
The following people are at the greatest risk of skin cancer:
- People with fair skin, especially types that freckle, sunburn easily, or become painful in the sun
- People with light (blond or red) hair and blue or green eyes
- Those with certain genetic disorders that deplete skin pigment , such as albinism and xeroderma pigmentosum (a disease in which DNA repair mechanisms, especially in response to ultraviolet light, is impaired)
- People who have already been treated for skin cancer
- People with numerous moles, unusual moles, or large moles that were present at birth
- People with close family members who have developed skin cancer
- People who had at least one severe sunburn early in life
- People with burns unrelated to sunburn
- People with indoor occupations and outdoor recreational habits
Skin cancer prevention
Decreasing your exposure to UV light by avoiding direct sunlight and tanning beds is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. When you do go out in the sun, wear protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
Regular, thorough skin examinations are also important, especially if you have a large number of moles or other risk factors. While this will not prevent skin cancer from developing, it may help to catch it early, when it can be treated more easily. Tell your doctor if you see any new, unusual or changing moles or growths on your skin
Non-Conventional Therapies for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
- Diet and Skin Cancer: The Potential Role of Dietary Antioxidants in Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Prevention”
- Dietary AOs (vitamin C & E) may prevent free radical-mediated DNA damage and tumorigenesis secondary to UV radiation. Numerous laboratory studies have found that certain dietary AOs show significant promise in skin cancer prevention. These results have been substantiated by animal studies. In human studies, researchers have evaluated both oral AO supplements and dietary intake of AOs via whole foods…”
- Hyperthermia induces endoplasmic reticulum-mediated apoptosis in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer cells.
- “Thus, hyperthermia induced apoptosis in two types of skin cancer cells through endoplasmic reticulum-mediated apoptosis and not through the classical intrinsic or extrinsic apoptosis pathways. Hyperthermia may be a promising treatment for basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, bypassing the antiapoptotic defenses concentrated in the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways…”
- Oral Nicotinamide Prevents Common Skin Cancers in High-Risk Patients, Reduces Costs
- The prevention of common skin cancers and precancers is possible by taking an inexpensive, widely available, oral pill twice daily. The pill—the vitamin B3 supplement called nicotinamide (Niacin) —cut the rate of new squamous-cell and basal-cell skin cancers by 23% compared with placebo after 1 year among patients at high risk for skin cancer. Nicotinamide also reduced the risk for developing actinic keratosis, a common precancer of the skin…”
- Oral and systemic photoprotection.
- “Photoprotection can be provided not only by ultraviolet (UV) blockers but also by oral substances.
- Enhancing ATP production with oral nicotinamide protects from UV immunosuppression, enhances DNA repair and reduces skin cancer in humans. Reactive oxygen species also contribute to photodamage. Nontoxic substances consumed in the diet, or available as oral supplements, can protect the skin by multiple potential mechanisms. These substances include polyphenols in fruit, vegetables, wine, tea and caffeine-containing foods. UV-induced prostaglandin E2 (PGE2 ) contributes to photo damage…”