Recently, while I was with a colleague I noticed a round-like ulceration on his face, just underneath his right eye and wondered what it could be. As we talked, he scratched the surrounding and acted like its really nothing to worry about.
‘Does it hurt?’ I asked. ‘Oh! This…,’ he pointed towards his face. ‘It doesn’t. It is a skin cancer, the type that doesn’t spread.’ He laughed as he explained the condition to me. ‘So sorry to hear that and I am delighted to know it does not cause you much pain,’ I added. ‘No, I am fine Dear and I am currently undergoing some radiotherapy.’
I met him again in a fortnight but this time the affected area was very pinkish and sore. I enquired to know how he was faring and the progress of the radiotherapy he has been undergoing and he made me understand that he was fine and bubbling. According to him, an artificial skin was placed on the affected area owing to the effect of the radiotherapy. As we talked on, I got to know that that he has a good knowledge of the condition and how to cope well with it.
‘In fact, earlier today when I went into a shop I saw a little boy who was drawing the mothers attention towards me, it was funny to watch. I kept smiling back at the boy while the mother was acting like she didn’t know what the child was talking about,’ He joked and we both laughed. I suppose he has a good sense of humour as well.
It is important that we pay attention to our skin and health in general as it can help us prevent and or combat certain health conditions. Thus, early detection aids prompt treatment.
I know there are some of us out there who do not pay much attention to their health, in the sense that would rather have it worsen before they seek a medical help. However, this is not the ultimate approach.
Let me share some symptoms of Skin cancer so that we can be informed and do not hesitate to seek for a medical help when necessary. Skin cancers can appear as:
- A spot or sore that does not heal within 4 weeks
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, scab, crust or bleed for more than 4 weeks
- Areas where the skin has broken down or become an ulcer, you can’t think of a reason for this change, and it does not heal within 4 weeks
- An ulcer is an area that is breaking down and begins to get deeper. This can be called erosion.
The three most common types of skin cancer are:
- Melanoma: Melanoma begins in melanocytes (pigment cells). Most melanocytes are in the skin. Melanoma can occur on any skin surface. In men, it’s often found on the skin on the head, on the neck, or between the shoulders and the hips. In women, it’s often found on the skin on the lower legs or between the shoulders and the hips. Melanoma is rare in people with dark skin. When it does develop in people with dark skin, it’s usually found under the fingernails, under the toenails, on the palms of the hands, or on the soles of the feet.
- Basal cell skin cancers: They look like a small, slow growing, shiny, pink or red lump. They can also look like red scaly patches. If left, basal cell skin cancers tend to become crusty, bleed, or develop into an ulcer. They are commonest on the face, scalp, ears, hands, shoulders and back. They are usually painless although they may itch and bleed.
- Squamous cell skin cancers They are usually pink lumps. They may have hard or scaly skin on the surface. They are often, but not always, tender. They can bleed easily and develop into an ulcer. They are most often found on the face, neck, lips, ears, hands, shoulders, arms and legs.They do not heal.
Lastly, do not ignore any unusual lump or lesion on the body surface that wouldn’t heal after four weeks, seek help to know what exactly it is.