What is skin cancer? What are skin cancer symptoms and treatment methods?

Skin cancer can occur for many reasons. However, prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays and not being adequately protected from the harmful effects of these rays is the most important cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer, which is more common in areas such as the head, neck, hands and face affected by UV rays, can also occur in areas of the body that are not exposed to sun, such as the genital area. Skin cancer, which is the most common type of cancer among all cancer types; It occurs with symptoms such as wounds, swelling, redness, spots. For early diagnosis of skin cancer, the person should check his body regularly and consult a doctor in suspicious cases.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer can occur as a result of the uncontrolled growth of cells that make up the skin, which is one of the largest organs and has many different functions. UV rays and solarium devices are the leading causes of skin cancer. Due to the gradual thinning of the ozone layer and therefore the exposure of the skin to more UV rays, cases of skin cancer have increased in recent years.

It can be said that people with fair skin, who have many moles, who are exposed to the sun for a long time and who have a history of sunburn have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer is possible as a result of detecting wounds or spots on the skin.


Types of Skin Cancer

The skin is a tissue made up of different layers. Skin cancer is divided into three different types according to the cancerous cells in these tissues. While some types of cancer are relatively easy to treat, some types of skin cancer can become life-threatening. Types of skin cancer are as follows:

Basal Cell Cancer

It is a type of cancer seen in the basal cells of the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin. Basal cell skin cancer, the most common type of skin cancer, usually occurs on sun-exposed parts of the body. BCC, which is more common in fair-skinned men over 50 years of age; It is manifested by symptoms such as red spots, open sores and bright swelling. These sores can cause itching, crusting, and bleeding.

Squamous Cell Cancer

It is a type of cancer that develops in the squamous cells that form the middle and outer layers of the skin. It occurs on the face, scalp, neck and hands that are frequently exposed to sun rays or tanning machines such as a solarium. Individuals with a weak immune system, a history of skin cancer, fair-skinned people over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing this type of skin cancer. Again, this skin cancer can occur after some skin diseases. The symptoms of SCC, which can be seen in places that are not exposed to the sun, such as the genital area, are almost the same as those of BCC. Early treatment is vital as SCC can spread to internal organs and lymph nodes.


Although the incidence of melanoma cell cancer, which is seen as a result of malignant proliferation of melanocyte cells that give color to the skin, is low, this type of cancer is the most dangerous among skin cancer types. Melanoma, which can spread to other organs if not diagnosed early, can occur as a result of genetic predisposition as well as exposure to sunlight. This type of cancer, which can be seen in any part of the body, usually manifests itself as black or brown spots. In addition, blue or pinkish spots may also appear.

Skin Cancer Causes

The factors that cause skin cancer can be listed as follows:

  • Being exposed to the rays emitted by the solarium device for a long time
  • repeated sunburns
  • Unprotected exposure to UV rays for long periods of time
  • Having fair skin, red hair, or freckles
  • living in sunny or high altitude climates
  • working outside
  • Multiple moles on any part of the body
  • Having a family and personal history of skin cancer
  • Weak immune system
  • Exposure to intense radiation
  • Exposure to chemicals such as coal tar and arsenic for a long time
  • Open wounds that do not heal for many years
  • To smoke
  • advanced age
  • Organ transplant
  • some skin diseases
  • become sensitive to UV rays due to certain medications, diseases, and skin care products

Skin Cancer Symptoms

Common skin cancer symptoms include:

    • Non-healing and recurrent scar formation
    • Raised, small, brown, blue, or red lesions
    • Crusty and hemorrhagic lesions
    • Red or brown spots
    • Different types of moles, an increase in the number or size of moles on the body
    • Moles are asymmetrical, with irregular edges, indented, different colors and larger than 5 mm.
    • Bleeding or changes in moles
    • Colorless or red bumps

Skin Cancer Diagnosis

Self-examination is of great importance for early diagnosis of skin cancer. Changes in the body can be detected by self-examination in a bright place. For hard-to-see areas, a hand mirror can be used. In case of detection of moles, spots and lesions that did not exist before, it is necessary to consult a dermatologist without delay. This spot, swelling or color changes are examined by the doctor. In the examination performed using the dermatoscopy method, the skin is closely examined with a microscope and suspicious areas are looked at. A skin biopsy may also be requested after all suspicious lesions or moles seen in the body are examined in detail. In skin biopsy, a piece of mole or lesions is taken and it is determined whether there are cancer cells, and if so, what type of skin cancer.

skin cancer

Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer treatment; It varies according to the growth stage, location and type of cancer. The aim of the treatment protocol, in which many different methods are applied, is to remove the tumor without causing any loss of function in the area. Since skin cancer usually occurs in areas of the body that are in contact with the sun, attention is also paid to the aesthetic appearance during the treatment process. Therefore, it is of great importance that the methods to be applied in the treatment of skin cancer are performed by specialists in the field. Some applications used in the treatment process are as follows:

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery, which is used for treatment in skin cancers other than melanoma, is a special technique that removes all cancerous cells and aims to preserve healthy tissue. It is especially preferred in skin cancer cases seen in areas such as ears, fingers and toes, genital area, nose, lips and scalp. Mohs micrographic surgery, which proceeds step by step by removing and examining the tumor, is a treatment method that should be applied by experienced surgeons.

Excisional Surgery

In the excisional surgery method, which is considered necessary for all types of skin cancer diagnosed at an early stage, a limited number of healthy tissue is removed along with cancerous cells.

Curettage and Electrocautery

Curettage and electrocautery used in superficial basal cell skin cancer types; It is not recommended for cases of large, aggressive and potentially metastatic skin cancer. In this method, which is performed under local anesthesia, the lesion is removed from the body using a spoon-like curette. In order to eliminate the cancerous cells that the curette cannot remove and to stop the bleeding, the area is burned with an instrument called electrocautery. This method can be repeated 2-3 times to completely destroy the cancerous cells.


In the cryotherapy method used in smaller and superficial skin cancer cases, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the cancerous cells. In the procedure, which is performed without requiring local anesthesia or any incision, the frozen area swells and crusts and falls off on its own. During this process, redness and swelling may occur. Pigment loss may occur in the cryotherapy area.

Photodynamic Therapy

In the method called photodynamic therapy, local drugs are applied to the area to make the cancerous cells sensitive to light. After the drugs penetrate the skin, strong laser beams are applied to the area by the dermatologist. In photodynamic therapy, which aims to destroy the tumor, healthy tissues may be damaged, albeit to a small extent. After the procedure, symptoms such as peeling, flaking, pain, redness and swelling may be encountered. At the same time, it is important for patients to avoid sunlight for at least 48 hours after the procedure.


X-rays, which are used to destroy cancerous cells, are usually used in tumors that are not suitable for surgery or that have spread. Radiotherapy, which is also applied to the elderly or people with diseases that do not allow surgery, is a method often used together with other treatment methods.

Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

Simple measures that can be taken to prevent skin cancer are as follows:

  • Wear wide hats to protect the neck, face, eyes and ears.
  • Do not sunbathe between 10:00 and 16:00 when the sun’s rays are intense and try to stay in the shade as much as possible during these hours.
  • Use sunscreen with a factor of 30 or higher throughout the year. Remember that sunscreen creams should be reapplied every 4 hours.
  • Avoid practices such as solarium.
  • Make sure to use sunglasses that block UV rays.
  • Avoid some harmful chemicals such as arsenic.
  • Check the lesions and moles that may occur on the body regularly. In case of doubt, consult a doctor without delay.

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