Any diagnosis of a disease related to cancer can send shudders down the spine of the person affected and his or her near and dear ones. Cancer in medical parlance today is treatable if diagnosed early.
Skin cancer can be cured, so do not be alarmed or take on unnecessary stress if you are diagnosed with skin cancer.
Different Types Of Skin Cancer
Let us first understand what skin cancer is. Melanoma skin cancer usually develops from a mole (not all moles are cancerous) in your skin or in the third layer of the skin – melanocytes. These cells produce melanin; hence most melanoma tumors are either brown or black, though in some instances these growths can also appear to be pink or even white.
In men these tumors are often found on the upper part of the body. Mainly chest or the back while in women it is generally found on the legs. However, if you see tumors in other parts of your body do not ignore it and consult a doctor. If diagnosed in its early stages melanoma skin cancer can be cured but grows rapidly to other parts of the body if disregarded.
Melanoma can almost always be cured in its early stages. But it is likely to spread to other parts of the body if it is not caught early. Skin cancer which is Non-melanoma in nature is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer worldwide and generally grows in the upper layers of skin.
Cancer cells which are Non melanoma in nature are named after the cells in which they grow. There are two common forms of this cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
Out of every 1000 skin cancer cases diagnosed, 750 cases are basal cell. Long exposure to sunlight generally causes this type of skin cancer. This sort of cancer is therefore found in the exposed parts of your body, but in some cases it has also been detected on the back as well. This form of non-melanoma skin cancer affects people who are in middle aged or old. Only on very rare occasions this can spread to some different body parts. Cancer of the squamous cell is also caused due to exposure to the sun but can spread rapidly to other parts of the body complicating the treatment process.
There is no need to go into major depression if you are diagnosed with skin cancer as both melanoma and non-melanoma cancer can be effectively cured. Besides, there is a very low risk factor in these forms of skin cancer spreading to other parts of the body (Metastasis) which may result in secondary forms of cancer. Statistics indicate that in cases of people diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma a high majority of patients have walked home fully cured.
Other exceptional forms of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma, T cell lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma of the skin that is diagnosed on the rarest of rarest patients around the world. Merkel cell carcinoma is uncommon and has been reported to respond well to radiotherapy, but at times it can reoccur in the original place and on other occasion can spread to other areas of the body.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a very rare condition and often associated with HIV infection. But it can also occur in people who do not have HIV infection. It is a cancer that begins in the cells that form the lining of blood vessels in the skin. It is usually treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
T cell lymphoma is also primarily known as cutaneous lymphoma and classified under non Hodgkin lymphoma.
Symptoms Of Skin Cancer
It is essential for people to have periodic cancer checks as skin cancer is often painless. An early appointment with a doctor will determine if lump or mole is malignant. Other symptoms to look out for are a mole, spot, patch or lump that does not heal after a few weeks. Also check if the lump is getting progressively bigger in size, changes color, darkens, gets inflamed or itches. If it bleeds consult a doctor right away.
Diagnosis Of Skin Cancer
An early diagnosis will probably save your life. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and refer you to a dermatologist who would run some tests. A biopsy will be sent to the laboratory to see if the lump is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Additional testing like X-rays, CT scans MRI and ultrasound scans may also be recommended. Finally a crucial sentinel lymph node biopsy will determine whether the cancer has spread to your lymph nodes.
Treatment Of Skin Cancer
Treatment of skin cancer will by and large depend on your age and the type of cancer that you have and where you have it. Treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Surgery is also determined taking into consideration how much the cancer has infected that particular are. The surgeon will remove the affected area and some healthy skin surrounding it. The healthy skin would be then sent to the laboratory for analysis and if it is determined that the healthy skin is free from cancer cells then no immediate surgery will be done again. The surgeon may also remove some of your lymph nodes if they are affected as well.
There are several different types of non-surgical treatment for skin cancer, including the following. A new treatment now is removing cancer cells using laser after applying light sensitive cream. This treatment is called Photodynamic therapy. Some doctors will freeze the cells and destroy them using liquid nitrogen. Many skin creams can also be prescribed which act as a deterrent to the cancer cells. Oral medication or Retinoid treatment besides chemotherapy, radiotherapy may also be administered to cure skin cancer.
Coping With Skin Cancer
The very news that you have been diagnosed with skin cancer will take a heavy toll on you, emotionally and physically. It is imperative that you are surrounded with people who radiate positive energy. Remember that skin cancer is curable in 90% of the cases. Treatment of skin cancer can affect you physically as well. Side effects of medications and chemotherapy can be very unpleasant.