Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It is very common and is often connected to skin exposure, though it is possible for skin cancer to develop on parts of the body not exposed to the sun. There are several types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma. Detecting any of these three types of skin cancer in their earliest stages is essential to the success of treatment.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer on Face
Most of the time skin cancer develops on parts of the body exposed to the sun. This includes the scalp, neck, chest, arms, hands, legs, and the face. It affects people of all skin tones, though some skin types are prone to different variations and might be affected by sun exposure in different ways. Symptoms of skin cancer on the face vary by cancer type and include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Pearly, waxy bump or bumps
- Flat, flesh-colored or brown lesion that looks like a scar
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Firm, red nodule
- Flat lesion with crusted, scaled surface
- Large brownish spots with dark speckles
- Moles that change shape and color or bleed
- Small lesions with irregular borders and red, blue, white, or blue-black appearance
- Dark lesions in areas not often exposed to the sun
- Red or purple patches on the skin or mucus membranes
- Common in people with weakened immune systems, including those suffering from AIDS
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
- Firm, shiny nodules just beneath the skin’s surface or in the hair follicles
- Often not triggered by sun exposure
Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma
- Hard, painless nodules
- Usually forms on the eyelid, but can form elsewhere
Causes of Skin Cancer on Face
Skin cancer is caused by cancerous cells in your skin. It forms on the skin’s top layer and grows if untreated. Squamous cells are located just below the outer surface and are the skin’s inner lining. Basal cells are responsible for producing new cells and are sitting just below the squamous cells. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is responsible for coloring skin, and are located in the lower part of the epidermis.
UV light damages skin cells. It is found in natural sunlight and commercial tanning beds. Experts believe there are additional factors that contribute to the development of skin cancer because not everyone exposed to the sun develops cancer and many types of skin cancer develop in areas protected from the sun.
Risk Factors of Skin Cancer on Face
- Fair Skin. Less melanin in your skin means it is less protected. Anyone can develop skin cancer, but fair skinned people with blond or red hair and light eyes, especially those who freckle and burn easily have a higher risk for skin cancer.
- Excessive Sun Exposure. Tanning and spending a lot of time in the sun, especially without UV protection, increases your risk for skin cancer. If you experienced one or more blistering sunburns in your childhood or adolescents you have a higher risk. People living in warm, sunny climates tend to have a higher risk because they spend more time outdoors in the sun. Those living at higher elevations are also at greater risk.
- Moles. People with a lot of moles or moles that are unusual have a higher risk. These moles might be larger or have an odd shape and stand a better chance of developing into cancerous moles.
- Precancerous Lesions. If a person has lesions known as actinic keratoses have a higher risk for developing skin cancer. These lesions begin as scaly, rough patches and can be brown or dark pink.
- Heredity. If either of your parents or any of your siblings suffered from skin cancer, your risk is likely higher to develop the same problem. Your risk is also higher if you have developed skin cancer in the past.
- Weakened Immunity. People with conditions or diseases that weaken their immune system experience a higher risk for developing skin cancer. This includes people suffering from leukemia, HIV, AIDS, or people taking immunosuppressant medication.
- Exposure to Radiation and Other Substances. If you have undergone radiation treatment you have a higher risk for developing skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma. Exposure to arsenic can also be a problem.
Treatments for Skin Cancer on Face
- Surgery. Both cryosurgery and excisional surgeries are used to treat skin cancer. Cryosurgery freezes the cancer with liquid nitrogen. Excisional surgery cuts the affected tissue and the surrounding area.
- Laser Therapy. Laser therapy uses an intense beam of light to vaporize a cancerous growth. It rarely damages the healthy surrounding tissue.
- Mohs Surgery. This is used to treat larger or recurring skin cancer. The cancer is removed from the skin layer by layer until no cancerous tissue remains.
- Curettage. This procedure removes the majority of the growth and then scrapes the remaining cancerous cells with a blade.
- Radiation Therapy. This is used in instances when surgical removal of the cancer cells is not possible.
- Chemotherapy. This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be topical for skin cancers that only affect the top layer of the skin. If skin cancer has spread to other parts of the body, systemic chemotherapy might be necessary.
- Photodynamic Therapy. This treatment uses a combination of laser lights and drugs to destroy cancer cells.
- Biological Therapy. This treatment boosts the body’s natural immunity to kill cancer cells.
Prevention of Skin Cancer on Face
There are several ways to prevent skin cancer from every forming. These are not full-proof, but they reduce a person’s risk a great deal. They include:
- Avoiding sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when it is strongest.
- Wearing sunscreen with at least an SPF rating of 15 any time you are in the sun. This includes lips and scalp, too.
- Using of protective clothing to block the sun’s harmful UV rays from reaching the skin. Some clothing even contains extra UV protection.
- Avoiding tanning beds that emit UV rays and expose your skin to unnatural sunlight.
- Avoiding certain medications that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
- Examining the skin on a regular basis, especially if you have an increased risk for developing skin cancer.