Skin cancers are mainly divided into non-melanoma skin cancers and melanoma. The most common cancer type worldwide is non-melanoma skin cancer. This is also divided into two as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer. It most commonly develops in areas exposed to sun. It usually starts as a small, skin-color swelling with shiny edges. Incrustation, scar formation and central bleeding may develop over time. It grows very slowly and almost never spreads. However, if not treated for a long time, it can damage the tissues under the skin and distort skin appearance.
Squamous cell carcinoma often develops in areas exposed to the sun such as the head and neck. It is similar to BCC but the incrustation is more pronounced. If not treated, it spreads to subcutaneous tissues and distorts the appearance. It can also rarely metastasize to the lymph nodes or other organs.
Melanomas make up a small percentage of skin cancers. However, deaths due to skin cancers are mostly due to melanomas. The lesion develops as a result of excessive and uncontrolled proliferation of cells called melanocytes that give the skin its color. It often starts as a dark brown or black spot. It gradually grows in size and blue-white-pink color tones may be added. The lesion is colorless in amelanotic melanomas, making the diagnosis is difficult in these cases.
Warning signs have been defined to indicate that a skin lesion could be a melanoma. These can be summarized as;
- Not being symmetrical,
- Irregular, indented lesion borders,
- Composed of various colors and tones,
- Diameter larger than 6 mm.
Although melanoma can be seen at any region of the body (including the scalp, inside the mouth, genital area, nails, eyes), it is most commonly observed on the legs in females and on the back in males.
The most effective method for protection from skin cancers is protection from the sun. The most important point in the diagnosis is suspecting skin cancer. The suspected lesion is then excised and pathology examination performed. Surgical treatment is sufficient for skin cancers diagnosed at an early stage. However, the presence of lymphatic and distant metastases should be investigated in melanoma cases that cannot be detected at an early period. Advanced imaging methods are used for this purpose. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy or gene targeted treatments are recommended in advanced melanoma cases. Patients who seem to be cured should still be followed-up at regular intervals.