Skin cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers in the world. Roughly one in every five, or 20%, of all people will get some type of skin cancer during their lives. Fortunately, skin cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all types of cancers. If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, be reassured that, with the proper treatment, you’ll likely recover fully. Below are some of the most common skin cancers and their treatments.
Types of Skin Cancer
The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. All of these types of cancer can be caused by overexposure to UV rays from either sunlight or artificial sources (like tanning beds), and the cancers can develop even many years after overexposure. These cancers affect the outermost layer of skin, called the epidermis. Consequently, these cancers are usually detected visually because they most often occur on parts of the body that have had the most sun exposure, such as the face, neck, and arms. Early signs of BCC can appear as small red, pink, clear, white, or occasionally pigmented lesions or bumps on the skin. In many cases, these lesions can be detected at the pre-cancerous stage, meaning they have not become cancerous or have not reached the deeper layers of the skin. SCC often appears as a small sore that will not heal. It can also crust over like a scab or bleed but will not heal like a normal wound. Melanoma often appears as a misshapen mole or dark spot on the skin. The spot may be entirely new, or it could be a change in an existing mole. To identify possible melanomas, apply the “ABCDE” analysis to spots you notice on your skin: Asymmetrical shape, uneven Borders, alterations in or inconsistent Color, large Diameter, Evolves (i.e., the spot has changed). There are additional types of skin cancer, as well. For the most part, if these cancers are detected and treated early, they can be easily treated. It is vital to examine your skin regularly for any signs of skin cancer, and if something looks suspicious, consult your doctor or a dermatologist.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Most skin cancers are treated by surgery to remove the cancer cells in your skin. Your oncologist will usually treat a carcinoma by removing the tumor and some tissue around it. This process is known as excision. Removing a melanoma, typically more worrisome than carcinoma, will involve removing more of the surrounding healthy tissue. This increases the likelihood that all cancerous cells will be removed so that the cancer will not return. Mohs surgery is the name of a technique often used to remove skin cancer in more visible areas of your body. The Mohs technique removes skin layer by layer until all the cancerous cells are removed, and this technique tends to reduce scarring. The cryosurgery technique treats small skin cancers with liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells.
Side Effects of Surgery Treatments for Skin Cancer
Catching skin cancer early on is critical. It usually means that your treatment will be much less invasive, and you won’t experience many post-surgery effects. The larger the area treated, the more noticeable the effects. As with any surgery, you may feel tired and notice pain and swelling around the surgical site. As always, watch for unusual bleeding or any signs of infection.
Other Treatment Options
Although surgery is a standard treatment for skin cancer, there are alternatives, For example, photodynamic therapy uses medicine and light to kill cancerous cells. Immunotherapy for skin cancer involves boosting the immune system so that the immune system targets cancerous cells. Immunotherapy is more commonly used in treating melanomas. If cancer is more advanced, more aggressive methods may be warranted. For example, chemotherapy or radiation is sometimes recommended for later-stage skin cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.
Visit Beacon Clinic to Understand Treatment Options
Don’t hesitate to consult your physician if you notice a mark or sore on your skin that you suspect is not normal. The sooner you get an accurate diagnosis of skin cancer, the better your prognosis. If your regular doctor confirms that you have skin cancer, Beacon Clinic can work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Whether you have a pre-cancerous growth or an advanced case of skin cancer, you deserve a team of compassionate caregivers who can assist you with support, treatment, and recovery. At Beacon Cancer Care, you can be sure you will have access to the most cutting-edge treatments available. Contact us at Beacon Clinic to meet our healthcare team and to have your questions answered.