What is the difference in skin cells? | skin cancer

What is the difference in skin cells? | skin cancer

Keep in mind the wonderful functions that your skin performs every day. It is only 1.5 mm thick at its highest point, but it protects muscles and organs from external threats. It can withstand strong and long-lasting bumps and bruises, scorching sunlight, dirt left by dirt and dust. It moves and stretches when you do so, but even when the body is at rest, the skin is buzzing with cellular activity. Basal cells change shape as they move to the surface to replace the dying squamous cells. Merkel cells feel the touch of your sheets or clothing. Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that darkens the skin and is designed to protect it from sunlight.

The skin is the largest organ in the body, and like other organs, it can develop cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting more than 3 million people annually. But treatments and prognosis vary greatly, depending on which cells are affected. “Being diagnosed with skin cancer is really a nonsensical term,” says Diego Muilenburg, MD, a surgical oncologist at our Phoenix Hospital. “It really matters whether it’s basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, or melanoma. The treatment model is very different for everyone.”

Skin cells and skin cancer.

Most of the cells in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, are basal cells, also called keratinocytes. These round cells form at the bottom of the epidermis and flatten as they move toward the surface, turning into squamous cells. Basal cell carcinomas account for about 80 percent of all skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Most of the cells on the surface of the skin are flat, scaly-shaped cells. These cells are also found in the throat, the linings of the respiratory and digestive tracts, and in hollow organs, such as the kidneys. Squamous cell carcinomas account for about 20 percent of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma cells and squamous cell skin grow slowly, usually do not metastasize, and are rarely fatal. But both types of cancer, especially squamous cell carcinoma, can cause serious complications if left untreated. It often appears as a lump, lump, or sore that does not go away.

“Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are very common,” says Dr. Muilenburg. “They usually appear on the sun-exposed areas, the face, legs and arms. On the skin, they are often treated in the same way, a dermatologist either freezes the affected skin or surgically removes it, and there is no need to worry about them much unless they are completely neglected. With melanomas and Merkel cell carcinomas. It’s completely different.”

Merkel cells, named after the 19th century German physician who originally described them, are found under the epidermis, next to nerve cells. They are sometimes called touch cells because they help the skin feel light touch, texture, and other fine details. Merkel cell carcinomas can appear as bumps or nodules on sun-exposed skin. This is a rare cancer, but it is often aggressive and can spread. In March, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the immunotherapy drug avelumab (Bavencio® .) .) for the treatment of metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer that develops in the melanocytes. Only 2 percent of all skin cancers are melanomas, but they are responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths. “Even a small melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and grow like wildfire throughout the body,” says Dr. Muilenburg. “It is a malignant cancer with a high recurrence. Surgeons often remove melanoma by removing it from a large area that may require a skin graft or reconstructive surgery to repair it. In addition, the surgeon must determine if cancer is found. It has spread to the glands. lymph. It can spread practically anywhere.”

Get to know your ABC

It can be difficult to determine whether a mole, lump, or ulcer has turned into cancer. Dr. Muilenburg recommends using the ABCDE test to help assess whether the abnormal growth is melanoma:

  • A for asymmetry: is the mole irregular in shape?
  • B indicates edge – is it jagged or grooved at the edges?
  • C for color – does it change color or color?
  • D for diameter – is it larger than the size of a pencil eraser?
  • E for evolution or height: does the macula grow in height or width?

“If it changes, if the edge is torn, scaly or bleeding, it should be checked,” he says. “And if you have any questions, go see a dermatologist.”

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