Skin cancer: what do you need to know?

Skin cancer is one of the most common in Brazil. Today, 33% of diagnoses of the disease fall into this category, according to  the Brazilian Society of Dermatology . With some daily care, however, it is possible to minimize the chances of developing it.

It is estimated that at the end of the 2018-2019 biennium, there will be about 165 thousand new cases of non-melanoma cancer in Brazil, according to  official data  from the National Cancer Institute José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA). Despite the high numbers, as well as  breast cancer  and prostate cancer, the sooner it is discovered, the greater the chances of your treatment being successful.

To learn more about skin cancer and understand what steps you can take in your routine to prevent it, continue reading our publication below:

What are the types of skin cancer

This cancer is characterized by skin wounds and can be classified in two ways: carcinomas, being they basal cell or squamous cell, and melanoma, considered as the most aggressive and rare type.


Basal cell carcinoma, also represented by the acronym CBC, has low lethality and usually appears in regions of the body that are more exposed to the sun on a daily basis, such as face, neck, shoulders and back.

BCC has this name because it occurs in the basal cells, located deep in the epidermis. With the appearance of a reddish wound in which there may be bleeding, it refers to lesions not related to cancer, such as psoriasis and eczema.

Squamous cell carcinoma, CPB, is the second most common, mainly in  men , compared to female patients  . Also called squamous cell carcinoma, it results from excessive sun exposure, without protection, in addition to being related to chronic wounds, scars and situations in which there is exposure to chemical agents and radiation.

Individuals who undergo artificial tanning are also more at risk of having cancer in the future, in addition to the existence of a genetic predisposition that can facilitate the appearance of a cancerous condition.


Recognized as the most serious skin cancer, the melanoma lesion is quite dark and resembles a spot or sign that stands out on the skin, in shades close to brown. Its aggressiveness commonly makes treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy necessary in order to eliminate cancer cells and reduce the risk of metastasis when the disease spreads through the body.

What are the symptoms

In cases of carcinomas, the wounds may resemble warts, but enlarged. Ulcers that cause pain, small lesions that grow quickly and do not heal, bruises that cause itching and secrete fluid must be analyzed by a dermatologist.

In addition, it is important to watch for signs on the back and behind the ears, as well as any wounds that take more than a month to heal.

In the case of melanoma, the dark lesion can appear on the face, neck, legs, trunk. It usually causes a lot of itching and peeling of the skin. The concern must arise when marks taken throughout life begin to change or when wounds start to appear on them.

There are, however, cases in which signs with changes in the skin can be surgically removed in order to prevent them from progressing to cancer.

Although it is more common in patients with   advanced aging , it is not necessary to be elderly to develop a case of the disease.

Diagnosis of skin cancer

To identify whether the wound is really a cancerous lesion, the dermatologist or oncologist of  the medical clinic  analyzes its aspects through an ABCDE exam, an acronym whose letters represent: asymmetry, irregular edges, color, diameter and evolution.

Thus, when analyzing asymmetry of the wound and irregularity at the edge of the lesion, for example, the professional can request a biopsy to close the diagnosis and, if he finds a picture of the disease, start treating it quickly.

How is the treatment

The treatment of skin cancer consists of intervention to remove the tumor and cancer cells. In some cases, depending on the degree of injury, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be required.

In carcinomas, there are different types of treatment, namely:

  • surgery for simple removal: procedure in which the professional removes the part with cancer cells and also some of the healthy skin around.
  • Mohs micrographic surgery: widely used for facial wounds. As it is more thorough, it prevents loss of healthy tissue and does not leave noticeable scars on the patient.
  • cryosurgery: in it, the lesion freezes, well defined, to fight malignant cells.
  • electrocurettage or curettage and electrodissection: the tumor is removed by scraping with a curette and electrical current is applied to the site in order to stop the bleeding and remove cancer cells.
  • photodynamic therapy: especially recommended for cases that manifest on the face and scalp. 5-Aminolevulinic acid is applied to the lesions and, the next day, bright light is applied to remove cancer cells.

In cases of melanoma, in addition to removing the tumor, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and biological therapy are used, which consists of giving strength to the patient’s immune system so that it can also fight cancer cells.

Although it is more serious, when melanoma is detected early, there is a high chance of a cure.

What is the best way to prevent skin cancer

To prevent skin cancer, the main recommendation is to control and avoid exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. So, you should use sunscreen daily, going over it every two hours.

In summer and spring, especially when there is greater sun exposure, it is recommended to expose yourself to the sun for a maximum period of two hours. If possible, before 8:00 and after 16:00.

Other important precautions are wearing hats, sunglasses and clothing with SPF protection, even more desirable when practicing outdoor activities, such as running and swimming. In all cases of cancer, in addition, a good  diet  and regular exercise, such as fighting  sedentary lifestyle , can minimize the chances of having them.

If you want to prevent yourself, also try to do a risk assessment with a dermatologist and understand with him all the care that should be important for your skin type.

Although it is a disease that can worry many people, skin cancer can be prevented and, when it is not, successfully treated if discovered early. With that in mind, consult regularly with a doctor you trust and make sure you take all the necessary care for your health to have more well-being and quality of life.


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