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Skin tumors


Sebaceous cysts are caused by inflammation of the sebaceous glands of the skin. The duct of the glands becomes clogged and does not drain the sebum. They appear on oily skin and very often on the scalp. When the cyst forms, it should be removed in its entirety and not drained. If not removed, it will continue to be inflamed, especially during periods of stress (with symptoms of pus, redness and pain).

Treatment: surgical removal of the cyst along with its lining to prevent it from forming again.

By the term skin tumor we refer to any lump originating from the epidermis, the appendages of the epidermis (hair, sebaceous glands), the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue.

Skin tumors are divided into:

  • Benign, with the most common being lipoma and sebaceous cyst
  • Malignant, with melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma being the most common.

They come from the subcutaneous fatty tissue. They are of unknown etiology but do not cause discomfort or inflammation. They are removed for cosmetic or medical reasons when they are large enough to press on adjacent tissues. When their size increases rapidly, a test should be done to rule out liposarcoma, a rare malignant tumor.

Treatment: surgical removal of the tumor (+ biopsy).

Basal Cell Carcinoma of the skin (BCC, Basal Cell Carcinoma)
It is the most common skin cancer, but with a very good prognosis. In Australia (light-skinned, with a lot of sunshine), the largest percentage of the population (90%) develops basal cell cancer. It is directly related to the harmful effects of the sun, and develops in the areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. It is very slow growing, and manifests as a plaque or lump that often bleeds, while a wound that does not close is created. It never metastasizes.

Treatment: surgical removal of the lesion along with 5 mm of healthy skin around it (+Biopsy).

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
It is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell. Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in damaged skin. Lesions (ulcers, burns) may be due to:

  • to the harmful effects of the sun,
  • in constant injury,
  • in places of constant pressure (such as heavy glasses that often press and injure the nose).

There is also an association with smoking (SCC is common in the oral mucosa) and with the human HPV virus.

Treatment: surgical removal of the carcinoma (+biopsy) along with at least 5mm of healthy skin around the lesion. Squamous cell is a more aggressive cancer than basal cell. It metastasizes, and its removal must be timely when diagnosed.

Melanoma is discussed in the chapter on moles.