What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a disease in which skin cells cannot grow and divide normally. Skin cells need to grow new skin by dividing and replacing old cells. However, abnormal cells divide unmanageably and create the buildup of excessive tissue known as a tumor, which can be malignant or benign. A skin tumor is known as malignant if it metastasizes or spreads to adjacent tissues. A skin tumor is called benign if it only affects a few cell layers and is harmless to nearby tissues.
Avoiding exposure to direct sunlight is a good way to decrease the risk of skin cancer. As the body’s largest organ, the skin is vulnerable to suffer from cancerous cells. Skin cancer can grow on the face, scalp, chest, neck, ear, limbs, etc. Click on image to enlarge.
The three types of skin cancer include melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Squamous and basal cell carcinoma are non-melanoma. Each have typical symptoms:
- Melanoma is characterized by a mole that changes in size and color, a large skin lesion, or a skin lesion with an abnormal border.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is characterized by a flat lesion with a crusted surface or red bumps around the head and limbs.
- Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by transparent and pearly bumps along with flesh-colored lesions.
A dermatologist can diagnose abnormality owing to skin cancer by scrutinizing your skin. Further, he or she might perform a biopsy by removing and examining small pieces of your skin. It works best to confirm what kind of cancer you have.
Treatments for Melanoma
The dermatologist can recommend undergoing some treatments once he or she has found cancer cells in your skin. You can learn what treatments are available for skin cancer. Some therapies for melanoma include:
Radiotherapy involves utilizing high-energy rays like x-rays to either shrink or eradicate cancerous cells. Applying radiotherapy is a good solution when surgery cannot be performed on your skin. You might have a side effect like slightly red skin.
This treatment uses anti-cancer medications to get rid of cancer cells. Side effects that might occur include diarrhea, nausea, hair thinning, and infertility.
Treatment for melanoma includes biological therapy, which utilizes substances the body produces biologically. The therapy is also referred to as immunotherapy since the medication will stimulate the immune system naturally. Interferon is an effective immunotherapy to treat melanoma through an injection. You might have side effects like fatigue, high fever, and headache.
Treatments for Non-Melanoma
Meanwhile, several treatments available for non-melanoma include:
Under local anesthesia, you can receive this treatment. Your cancer is removed by using extreme cold in liquid nitrogen, which is applied by spraying it onto the cancer. It can freeze cancer cells and kill them efficiently. The area heals within four to six months in which a scab forms over the area and drops off. Cryosurgery might result in side effects such as swelling and scarring.
Curettage and electrocautery
This method scraps cancer cells away by using a curette, a round blade, and then removes the cells by applying an electric needle to eliminate the rest of cancer cells. It is performed under local anesthesia. Your doctor might repeat this treatment two or three times to ensure the cancerous cells disappear.
Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS)
You need to maintain healthy skin to be eligible for this treatment. A specialist must perform it by removing as little tissue as possible. It is a slow process, but is very effective in getting rid of large skin cancers.
Lymph node removal
This treatment is recommended once cancerous cells have attacked your lymph nodes. It is a big surgery that requires a plastic surgeon to perform. You might have pain and shoulder stiffness after the surgery.
Cancer.gov: Skin Cancer Treatment - https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/skin/Patient
MayoClinic.com: Treatments and Drugs - https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-cancer/DS00190/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
Cancerhelp.org.uk: Surgery for Skin Cancer - https://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/skin-cancer/treatment/surgery-for-skin-cancer
Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.
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