Dr Mohit Agarwal
Any abnormal malignant growth of the cells of the skin leads to the development of skin cancer. Skin cancer is of three types- Squamous cell carcinoma, Basal cell carcinoma and Melanoma. Skin cancer is rare and the incidence is less than 1 percent of all diagnosed cancer. Worldwide basal cell carcinoma is the most common subtype however in India it is the squamous cell carcinoma which predominates. The incidence of skin cancer is variable in India with a maximum number of cases from North-Eastern states and northern states of Indians have darker skin, because of melanin, which is protective against skin cancer development.
Still in India, many cases of skin cancer are reported. Various factors like increased exposure to ultraviolet B in the North-Eastern states and increase arsenic in water bodies of Northern States have been attributed for the same. The prognosis of Skin cancer depends upon the stage of the presentation hence it is necessary to diagnose it at an early stage.
Melanoma arises from pigment-containing cells known as Melanocytes. Melanoma may occur in both external and internal parts of the body, however, they are most common in the sun-exposed parts of the body. Mole is usually present normally in most individuals. The number of moles in an individual may vary from 10-40. Normal moles have distinct boundaries with uniform colour and are usually less than a quarter an inch in size. Risk factors for the development of Melanoma include increase susceptibility to sunburn, having fair skin, immunosuppression due to any reason, and excessive exposure to ultraviolet violet radiation, especially in geographical areas near the equator.
Moles which are malignant or are predisposed to the development of cancer have special characteristics which may be remembered as ABCDE
A stands for symmetry in shape.
B is for irregular borders.
C means variegated appearance – uneven distribution of colours
D for diameter of mole larger than a quarter an inch.
E for evolving meaning by any changes in the appearance of mole-like increase or decrease in size, shape, colour, itching or bleeding.
One needs to visit a doctor if he or she notices any of the above. Preventive measures which can be taken for protection against Skin cancer would be – wearing protective clothing so as to decrease the exposure of skin to the sun, wearing sunscreen creams, and lotions and avoiding direct sun exposure during the noon period.
Prevention is better than cure. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment increase the chances of cure.
(The author is the Director and Unit Head, Medical Oncology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)