Skin cancer originates in the tissues of the skin. There are several types of skin cancer depending on the type of skin cell they arise from. They are broadly divided into two main types – non-melanoma and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma forms in the lowest layer of the epidermis of skin whereas squamous cell carcinoma forms in squamous cells at the surface of the skin. Melanoma originates in skin pigment producing cells called melanocytes.
The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from sun. Moles are the most dangerous precipitate factor. Irregular diet, smoking, chronic infection and inflammation, arsenic exposure, etc. can also contribute as risk factors. Inks used in tattoos, especially blue ink, may contain toxic elements like cobalt and aluminium which increase the risk of skin cancer. Indoor tanning beds can significantly increases chances of skin cancer.
A biopsy is the only way to diagnose the condition. The earlier the diagnosis, the better is the chances of survival. Some of the latest methods which help screen or detect skin cancers early are ultra-precision hyper-spectral camera and mobile phone application ClipOCam-Derma. Most forms of non-melanoma skin cancer can be easily treated because they grow slowly. But if not treated, some non-melanoma skin cancers can become large or spread inside the body. A melanoma cancer, if caught early, can be cured with relatively minor surgery. Some of the latest advances in treatment are targeted molecular therapy with drug Dz13, chromatin derived from rattlesnake venom and MEK inhibitors.
Sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer. According to some studies aspirin, silibinin (a milk thistle extract) and a caffeine-exercise combo have been shown to offer protection against skin cancers.