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Skin cancer

What is skin cancer?


Skin cancer is a malignant tumor. There are two most common forms: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Other types of skin cancer, such as Merkel's carcinoma, are less common.


Skin cancer ranks 3rd in the world in terms of the total incidence of malignant tumors and 2nd in terms of cancer incidence in women.  The incidence of this pathology is growing.


What are the main risk factors for skin cancer?  


1. Ultraviolet irradiation of the skin (sunburn in southern countries up to 1-2 times a year, solarium visits, scars after sunburn) especially in people with light skin (blondes, redheads)!!!


2. Occupational hazards (carcinogenic chemicals)


3. Immunosuppressive states.  


4. Elderly and senile age.


How to recognize skin cancer?


You should know that early diagnosis is the key to a complete cure for skin cancer-a tumor visible to the eye!!!  For timely detection, it is necessary to periodically independently inspect the skin, especially the skin of the face and scalp in elderly people with a light skin phenotype. If there are non-healing ulcers, areas of redness or other suspicious formations, you should immediately contact an oncologist, a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of skin tumors.  


 Early forms OF SKIN CANCER (complete cure in 90-100 % of cases)

What is included in the examination for skin cancer?


Visual examination by an oncologist of the primary tumor and the skin near it, possibly with the use of dermatoscopy, as well as examination and palpation of regional lymph nodes and collection of anamnesis. Also, from the surface of the tumor, you can take a scrape, discharge, or perform a fine needle puncture of a nodular tumor with a cytological examination, or perform a biopsy, taking a small fragment of the tumor for histological examination. With large skin tumors, it is necessary to conduct an ultrasound examination of the peripheral lymph nodes, abdominal organs and chest X-rays for the absence or presence of metastases, which fortunately are very rare.


The main forms of skin cancer

  • Skin basal cell carcinoma is the most common (up to 80%) slow-growing malignant skin tumor that invades and destroys the underlying tissues and rarely metastasizes (probability 0.02-0.5%).  Most often occurs on the face of the elderly. Sometimes it forms an ulcer with possible bleeding. There are superficial, nodular, infiltrative and sclerosing forms of skin basal cell carcinoma.  
  • Squamous cell skin cancer-occurs in 16-20% of all malignant human skin tumors. It often occurs in the elderly in the area of damaged skin: after burns, wounds and chronic inflammatory processes.  It grows much faster than skin basal cell carcinoma.  In appearance, this is a dense formation rising above the skin with a loss of skin pattern, usually rounded in shape with hyperkeratosis at the apex or with papillomatous growths.  No painful sensations. Squamous cell carcinoma rarely metastasizes (5-20% chance).


Merkel carcinoma (cancer from Merkel cells) - this is a rare neuroendocrine malignant skin tumor.  Usually the surface of the tumor is smooth, the color is reddish or red-cyanotic, the tumor increases rapidly, is characterized by an aggressive course and gives metastases.  Older men (61%) are more likely to get sick in patients aged 70 years and older. 


How to treat skin cancer?


1. In local forms of skin cancer, surgical removal of the tumor is performed by excision with a scalpel, possibly on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia, if necessary, according to indications, surgical treatment is supplemented by preventive radiation therapy.


An adequate alternative to surgical excision can be electrocoagulation, cryo-and laser destruction or local antitumor therapy, especially for facial skin cancer and its small size.


2. For locally advanced inoperable skin cancer variants, sequential combined treatment is performed (local or systemic drug therapy followed by cryodestruction, radiation therapy, or surgical removal of the residual tumor with the use of skin grafting, if necessary)


3. If there are metastases of skin cancer in the regional lymph nodes, the affected lymph nodes are removed (lymphadenectomy). 


4.In rare cases, if patients with advanced forms of skin cancer have distant metastases, in particular with Merkel carcinoma, systemic antitumor therapy (chemotherapy or targeted therapy) is prescribed.

REMEMBER: that only early and timely diagnosis will allow you to carry out radical treatment and completely rid you of this cancer!  

GBUZ Moscow Clinical Scientific Center named after Loginov MHD