The reasons for the development of skin cancer are quite diverse, but, nevertheless, quite amenable to analysis. First of all, those areas of the skin that are most exposed to ultraviolet radiation, fresh air and other factors that irritate the surface of the skin - the skin of the neck and head - are affected.
This suggests that in addition to the complex causes of the disease, there are also factors of elementary care for your own body: immoderate exposure to the sun, uncomfortable synthetic clothing, work and living in adverse environmental conditions.
There are certain genetic and phenotypic factors that increase the likelihood of skin cancer:
Excessive UV exposure
White people are more likely to have skin cancer. This is caused by simple photomechanics - if there is less melanin in the tissues (pigment), then the ultraviolet of the sun's rays affects the surface of the body more strongly.
A long time ago in the open spaces of the Soviet Union formed a pathological tradition - to go to the sea to "sunbathe." If you live in an area where you have not genetically sunbathed since the last ice age, you at this moment “feed” the likelihood of developing the described disease.
Especially often, skin cancer develops among fans of year-round tanning, visiting tanning salons. The danger of these measures has long been proven, but there are still quite a few who want to. Skin cancer from abuse without abuse develops much less frequently.
Complex color tattoos are one of the causes of skin cancer
When stuffing an image, certain dyes based on aluminum, cobalt, mercury salts, etc. get into the skin. Not so rarely, a local allergic reaction (inflammation) develops on these substances. Any chronic inflammation in the long term can lead to the formation of a malignant neoplasm.
In addition, when poured periodically, small papillomas, nevi, and other superficial benign tumors are periodically damaged. This is one of the reasons for the development of melanoma directly against the background of the picture, which significantly complicates its detection. This tumor develops and metastasizes at a tremendous speed, which often leads to death.
Hereditary predisposition to a variety of tumors
A lot of people by middle age are the owners of several types of benign and 1-2 malignant tumors. This is due to specific defects of the immune system, inherited. Cancer of the skin or any other organs in a family history of several direct relatives is an occasion to seriously engage in strengthening one's own immunity. It is not too important which organs were affected by relatives, the main thing is that the body does not have time to detect and destroy altered cells in time. Unfortunately, these genetic defects are often transmitted to children.
Effect of age on skin cancer
Any organ has a certain margin of safety, including skin. All injuries, scars, the effects of all environmental factors, a decrease in local and general immunity often lead to the formation of malignant diseases in the elderly, including skin cancer. Especially often, the process begins with relatively benign intermediate conditions, which will be discussed below.
Skin diseases considered precancerous
- pigmented nevi - benign dark spots on the skin. Most often they are complicated by those that are located in areas of maximum exposure to external factors - friction, sun, water,
- bowen disease - a small red spot with uneven borders, increases to 5 cm in diameter. After a while, it begins to peel off, thicken, warty formations appear, the process is transformed into squamous cell carcinoma of the skin,
- erythroplasia keira - a similar process on the skin of the penis,
- skin horn - keratinized tissue protruding above the skin surface,
- senile keratoma - a rounded dark plaque on the surface of the skin, covered with keratinized cells,
- xeroderma pigmentosa - hereditary local susceptibility to ultraviolet light. It manifests itself as peculiar local spots, freckles,
Food defects, excessive consumption of food carcinogens in combination with diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to an increase in the concentration of dangerous substances in all layers of the skin. This increases the risk of malignancy of some cells and leads to the formation of basal cell carcinomas and squamous forms of skin cancer.
Increased radiation also a significant risk factor for skin cancer. It will not be superfluous to order at least once a determination of the average radiation level in your house (apartment).
Burns - for burns from the 2nd degree, the entire restored surface has an increased risk of malignancy.
If you have one or more of the above processes and conditions - pay increased attention to the condition of the skin. In case of unusual itching, redness, strange formations and a change in the color of the usual elements - immediately contact an oncologist.
Risk factors for developing skin cancer include:
- Light skin tone,
- Blond or red hair
- Light eyes (blue or green)
- Skin that burns easily and / or has freckles,
- If there were sunburns in the past,
- A family and / or personal history of skin cancer,
- Frequent spending time in the sun during work or rest,
- A large number of moles.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of skin cancer, but they may include:
- Changing an existing mole or spot,
- The mole has become painful to the touch
- A wound in a mole that does not heal in two weeks,
- Shiny pink, red, pearl white or translucent protrusion on a mole,
A mole or wound with irregular borders that can bleed easily.
If you are testing yourself, be sure to check for signs of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
An easy way to remember the signs of melanoma is to think about “ABCDE,” which means:
- Asymmetry: the mole has a strange shape, half of which does not correspond to the other half.
- Border: the border of the mole is uneven or irregular.
- Color: the color is uneven.
- Diameter: the mole is larger than a pea.
- Development: The mole has changed in size, shape or color.
If you find signs of melanoma, talk with your doctor as soon as possible.
Common risk factors
- Sunlight . Sunlight is a source of ultraviolet radiation. Exposure to sunlight causes skin damage that can lead to cancer. Pay attention to:
- Sunburn. People who have suffered severe sunburn are at risk of illness.
- Total time in the sun.
- Tan. The more a person is in the sun, the greater the risk of developing oncology.
When taking precautions, some properties of sunlight must be considered. It is reflected from sand, water, snow, ice and sidewalks. The sun's rays pass through clouds, glass, windows and light clothing. In the United States, for example, skin carcinoma is more likely to occur where sun exposure is stronger (there are more cancers in Texas than in Minnesota). In addition, the effect of solar radiation is stronger on the hills.
- Solarium Artificial UV sources lead to skin damage and cancer. Doctors strongly recommend, especially at a young age, to avoid the use of ultraviolet lamps and a solarium. Recently, the development of oncology due to the use of tanning beds under the age of 30 years has become more frequent.
- The presence of skin cancer in the past. People who have had skin carcinoma are at risk because of a possible relapse.
- Genetic predisposition. If someone close has suffered cancer, then all family members are at risk.
- Bright skin . The presence of fair skin, which easily burns in the sun, blue or gray eyes, red or blond hair, a large number of freckles increases the risk of developing malignant skin tumors.
- Taking medications. Antibiotics, hormones, antidepressants make the skin more sensitive. They also suppress the immune system. All this affects the functioning of the body and can lead to RK.
Melanoma Risk Factors
- Dysplastic nevus. This is a mole-like stain. But it is more than an ordinary mole, differs in color, the nature of the surface. It looks larger than peas and may be larger than peanuts. It comes in different shades: from pink to dark brown. As a rule, it has a smooth, slightly scaly surface. Nevus has uneven edges, slightly ingrown into the skin.
Dysplastic nevi more often than normal moles are malignant. However, most of them do not turn into melanoma. Nevi that are characterized by malignancy are subject to surgical excision with histological analysis.
- Over 50 common moles. The mole is smaller than a pea in size, pink, brown, yellow. Round or oval in shape with a smooth surface. The presence of a large number of such moles also increases the risk of developing oncology.
Risk Factors for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Old scars, burns, ulcers, or sore spots on the skin.
- The effects of arsenic.
- Passage of exposure.
Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma:
- Actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is a flat, scaly growth on the skin. It is more common in places exposed to the sun, especially on the face and back of the hands. The growth has the form of a coarse red or brown spot on the skin. Also appears on the lower lip as crackles that do not heal. If you do not consult a doctor in time, this scaly outgrowth can develop into squamous RK.
- Human papillomavirus. Certain types of HPV infect the skin and increase the risk of developing squamous RK. These types of HPV are different from HPV, which cause cervical cancer and other genital cancer in women and men.
Skin Cancer Risk Factors
The exact causes of skin cancer, like many other oncological diseases, have not yet been elucidated. Only known factors that increase the risk of developing pathology are known.
At risk are people of the Caucasian race, especially the “Celtic” phenotype - light or red hair, pale skin. In Africans and Asians, the disease is 6-10 times less common.
A large number of moles on the body increases the risk of developing melanoma (the more there are, the higher the likelihood that melanoma will develop from one of them). UV rays significantly increase the risk of this type of skin cancer. Accordingly, the disease is often diagnosed in those who live in the southern regions, spends a lot of time outdoors in the summer in sunny weather, and often visits the solarium.
Increases the risk of skin cancer and a genetic predisposition - a history of skin cancer in one of the direct relatives.
In addition, people with chronic and precancerous skin diseases are more susceptible to oncology. Chronic pathologies with a high risk of malignant transformation include:
- Keir erythroplasia,
- Bowen's disease
- Paget's disease
- radiation dermatitis,
- actinic keratosis,
- pigment xeroderma.
Precancerous skin diseases are:
- papillomatosis of the skin,
- Verruciform epidermodysplasia
- skin horn.
Infection with the human papillomavirus also has a high carcinogenic activity.
Increases the risk of development and exposure to skin of chemical carcinogens - products of oil refining, oil shale, coal, mineral oils, resins, insecticides, herbicides, arsenic.
One of the causes of skin cancer can also be greatly reduced immunity due to the use of immunosuppressive drugs, due to diseases such as AIDS, lymphoproliferative pathologies, as well as after transplantation of internal organs.
Skin cancer is also much more common in smokers. This is especially true of the squamous variety of the disease.
More on the dangers of tanning
Scientists have proven the connection between tanning and skin cancer. American researchers cite terrifying statistics: about 430,000 cases of skin cancer are associated with visits to tanning salons. Other studies also confirm the dangers of this procedure.
It is proved that 2 out of 3 people who regularly visit the tanning bed, sooner or later develop skin cancer. Even a single trip to such a procedure increases the likelihood of oncology by 20%. And, if a person attended 150-170 sessions, then the risk increases by 50%. Such a number of sessions "runs" for 10-15 years, if you walk about once a month.
The great harm to the tanning bed is explained by the fact that the radiation from the lamps of the apparatus consists of 98% of the waves of the most carcinogenic type - UVA spectrum waves.
UV exposure on the skin
Staying in the scorching sun for a long time is harmful in any case. You get a tan, and the skin receives a dangerous "dose" of ultraviolet radiation. A color change already indicates that the skin is trying to adapt to harmful conditions. The appearance of an immediate tan suggests that the skin had to protect itself from sunburn and adapt to the effects of UV rays. During any sun exposure session, irreversible changes in the DNA of the cells responsible for the metabolism of melanin can occur.
Tanning has become especially dangerous in recent decades, as the ozone layer has become thinner due to environmental degradation and has begun to transmit more carcinogenic UV rays.
How to sunbathe to avoid skin cancer
Compliance with the following rules will help to reduce the harm of solar radiation:
- applying sunscreen with a suitable type of SPF,
- sunbathing in the safest hours - until 12 noon or after 16 pm.
Note! Some sources advise for the prevention of melanoma just stick large moles with a band-aid for tanning. However, this makes no sense. It can only, on the contrary, do harm, exposing the nevus to trauma and creating a greenhouse effect. In addition, melanoma can form on another part of the skin outside the moles.
Who can sunbathe and who not
You can sunbathe for everyone except the owners of the Celtic phototype. However, do not forget about sunscreen. UV rays are not only the cause of melanoma, but also photoaging of the skin.
You can not be in the open sun in the following cases:
- there are precancerous skin diseases,
- there are other skin diseases in the acute phase,
- you are the owner of a large number of moles,
- you have a genetic predisposition to skin cancer,
- children under 3 years old.
|Phototype||Signs||Time in the sun||Recommended SPF|
|Celtic (Scandinavian)||up to 7 minutes||from 40|
|Fair-skinned European (Germanic)||up to 14 minutes||from 20|
|Middle European||up to 20 minutes||from 10|
|Mediterranean||up to 30 minutes||from 10|
|Asian||can be more than 30 minutes||5-10|
|African||can be more than 30 minutes||5-10|
How to choose and use sunscreen
To determine how much time you can spend in the sun using a sunscreen, you need a safe sun exposure appropriate for your skin type, multiplied by the SPF number.
For example, if you have a third skin type and you have SPF 10 applied, you can safely spend 20 * 10 = 200 minutes in the sun.
You can refer to the recommendations of the manufacturer of sunscreens indicated on the package. Most often, the following protection time is indicated there:
- SPF 15 and less - up to 2.5 hours,
- SPF 30 - up to 5 hours,
- SPF 40 - up to 6.5 hours,
- SPF 50 - up to 8 hours.
If you are going on vacation to a country with a very hot climate, take a cream with a higher SPF than indicated in the table. For the first phototype - from 50, for 2 - from 40, for 3 and 4 - from 20.
It is also desirable that the package be labeled with UVA / UVB. This means that the product protects against UV rays of various spectra, including carcinogens.
It is worth paying attention to whether a waterproof remedy for the sun or not. If not or not indicated, then apply the product on the skin after each bath.
Rules for self-examination of moles
At least once a month, inspect the moles yourself for changes. The presence of more than 20 moles is an occasion to contact a dermatologist and have a skin passport for a permanent preventive examination. Seek professional advice if you notice such warning signs:
- the mole has become asymmetric,
- the edges of the nevus become uneven,
- the color has changed - it has become heterogeneous, pigmentation has disappeared or the mole has become very dark,
- mole has increased in size - special attention is that more than 7 mm in diameter,
- crusts or cracks appeared
- the birthmark began to bleed
- there were painful sensations
- moles sharply became more.
Even one of the listed symptoms is enough to contact a dermatologist.
How to prevent skin cancer
Prevention is mandatory for everyone, and especially for those at risk. To reduce the risk of skin cancer, it’s enough to follow simple rules:
- Avoid prolonged outdoor stays between 12 and 4 days,
- apply a skin-friendly sunscreen
- do not use expired cosmetics and dubious folk remedies,
- on vacation in hot countries, wear special beachwear, wide-brimmed hats, sunbathe under an awning,
- consult a doctor in a timely manner and completely cure any skin diseases,
- give up smoking and alcohol, lead a healthy lifestyle,
- notice changes in moles in time and don’t delay going to the doctor,
- Have a routine checkup with a dermatologist once a year.
Early diagnosis will help prevent further disease progression. For example, if a tumor is removed at the first sign of malignant changes, skin cancer can be avoided.
The main types of skin cancer
• Melanoma. This cancer is formed from pigment cells, melanocytes. Most melanocytes are located in the skin, so melanoma most often occurs there. But melanoma can also develop in other organs (eye melanoma). Melanoma is considered an aggressive cancer that often gives metastases.
• Basal cell carcinoma (basal cell carcinoma). This cancer occurs in the cells of the basal layer of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma often occurs on the face. In people with pale skin, this is the most common type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by slow growth, rarely gives metastases and can be treated well.
• Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Grows from cells of a prickly layer of the epidermis. This cancer develops in open areas of the skin, often against the background of solar keratosis. It may look like a dense round formation with an uneven surface or an ulcer. The disease is more severe than basal cell carcinoma, often giving metastases.
Other risk factors for major types of skin cancer
• Cancer in the past. People who have already experienced melanoma have an increased risk of developing melanoma in the future, so they should be checked regularly by an oncologist. People who previously had basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer have an increased risk of other types of cancer in the future.
• Family story. Melanoma sometimes occurs in several members of the same family. If you have 2 or more close relatives (mother, father, brother, sister) with melanoma, then you are at risk. Other diseases can be inherited, including Gorlin-Goltz syndrome (syndrome of non-invasive basal cell carcinoma). A hereditary disease such as pigment xeroderma increases the sensitivity of the skin to ultraviolet light, and is considered a precancerous condition.
• Pale, sensitive to the sun. There are people who are more prone to the harmful effects of sunlight: pale skin, fair hair, blue or gray eyes. People of this “northern” type are more likely than others to suffer from skin cancer.
• Some diseases. There are diseases that predispose to the appearance of malignant tumors, including skin cancer. These include diseases of the immune system, because it is a strong immune system that must fight cancer cells and prevent their reproduction.
• Medications. Some hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, immunosuppressants, and drugs of other groups can increase the risk of skin malignancies. Treatment of psoriasis with psoralen and ultraviolet radiation (PUVA) significantly increases the likelihood of squamous cell carcinoma, as well as possibly other types of skin cancer.
• Radiation. Ionizing radiation (gamma or X-rays) can disrupt the DNA structure of any cells in our body, increasing the risk of mutations and cancer. Victims of accidents at nuclear facilities, as well as people who received radiation therapy for other cancer, are susceptible to skin cancer.
• Chemical carcinogens. People in contact with industrial soot, coal, paraffin, petroleum products, arsenic compounds are at risk for skin cancer.
Selected Melanoma Risk Factors
• Dysplastic nevus (Clark's nevus). This skin formation in appearance differs from an ordinary mole. Dysplastic nevus can be larger, has a mottled color (a mixture of different colors, from pink to dark brown), a smooth surface and uneven edges. Dysplastic nevus can turn into melanoma, although this happens infrequently.
• The presence on the body of more than 50 moles. The presence of a large number of common birthmarks (even very small ones) is associated with an increased risk of melanoma.
Selected risk factors for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer:
• Old scars, poorly healing ulcers, foci of skin inflammation.
• Skin exposure to carcinogenic compounds of arsenic.
• Exposure to radiation.
Other risk factors for squamous skin cancer:
• Senile keratosis, sometimes called solar keratosis. This is a skin disease that is characterized by a change in keratinocytes. As can be seen from the two traditional names, this disease often affects open, sun-exposed areas of the skin, and is more characteristic of the elderly. Without treatment, solar keratosis can pass into squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
• Human papillomavirus (HPV). This oncogenic virus is responsible for many types of cancer, in particular one of the varieties of HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer. Some types of HPV are associated with squamous skin cancer.
• Smoking. According to modern Western concepts, smoking significantly increases the likelihood of squamous cell skin cancer. The effect of smoking on the risk of basal cell skin cancer has not been sufficiently studied, but scientists suspect
Konstantin Mokanov: Master of Pharmacy and professional medical translator