Skin cancer does one of the most common types of cancer currently. On the other hand, we can distinguish between two types: basal and squamous cell or melanoma.
As a general rule, in all types of cancer there has been an alteration in the genetic material or cellular DNA. Thanks to genetic information, cells can perform their functions and reproduce easily. Thus, two types of genes may be affected:
- Proto-oncogenes. They are generally responsible for the growth, survival and reproduction of cells.
- Tumor suppressor genes. They control mortality and control the number of cells in an area of the body.
The different types of cancer are caused by a mutation in one of these genes. Anyway, cells in the affected region begin dividing uncontrollably.
Causes of cutaneous basal and squamous cell carcinoma
As a rule, this disease it is caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays without any protective measures. Likewise, this radiation can come from a natural source (the sun) or an artificial one (tanning beds). The genetic material affected can vary in each subtype:
- In the case of squamous cells, the most affected gene is p53. It is a tumor suppressor gene which, if altered, does not induce cell death in cells with DNA modifications, as would occur under normal conditions. Over time, some of them may become cancerous.
- On the other hand, in the basal cells the most frequently altered gene is PTCH1. Keeps cell growth under control. This is another tumor suppressor. This abnormal information can also be passed on from parent to child through Golin syndrome.
Similarly, the suffering patients xeroderma pigmentosum (or XP) are more likely to develop this subtype Of cancer. In this inherited disease, people have an alteration in the enzyme (specialized protein) responsible for repairing DNA damage in cells. Because these people are unable to correct the errors produced by ultraviolet radiation, they are more likely to get skin cancer.
It has also been verified that some infections can affect the problem genes. For example, infections caused by the human papilloma virus (or HPV).
Clinical trials are currently underway to try and track any mutations that occur. This way, specialists were able to highlight some risk factors which increase the likelihood of suffering from this disease. For example having white skin, exposure to UV rays, hereditary pathologies or exposure to toxic substances such as tobacco.
Causes of melanoma skin cancer
On the other hand, in this subtype of cancer the same genes as for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are involved. In other words, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes participate and can be altered by various factors:
- Exposure to UV rays without using the necessary protective measures. It can also come from a natural source (the sun) or an artificial source (such as tanning beds).
- Hereditary alterations in those genes, such as the CDKN2A gene or p16. When its functions are altered, it is unable to control cell growth. Progressively, this alteration could lead to the development of this type of cancer.
- The vast majority of moles are benign, but it is possible for some to become malignant or cancerous. It was demonstrated that occurs more often in atypical nevi (or dysplastic) and in patients with a large number of them.
When to see the doctor?
If you have noticed significant changes in your skin, either in a small specific area or in a larger area, It is advisable to consult your doctor as soon as possible. for your serenity
Changes in skin pigmentation, the increase in the size of a mole or nevusdark and uneven pigmentation, among others, are signs to watch out for.
On the other hand, it must be taken into account that there does not always have to be an irregularity or some discomfort to go to the doctor. Going to six-monthly or annual checkups, and keeping up to date with your health is one of the best forms of prevention you can practice.
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