How Can You Tell If A Spot Is Skin Cancer
Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesnt go away or goes away then comes back. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump.
What Will Happen After Treatment
Youll be glad when treatment is over. Your doctor will want you to check your skin at least once a month. It will be very important to protect yourself from getting too much sun.
For years after treatment ends, you will see your skin cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. Your doctor will ask about symptoms and check you for signs of the cancer coming back or a new skin cancer. Other exams and tests may also be done.
Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.
You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.
Treatments Aimed Just At The Skin
For many skin lymphomas , the first treatment is aimed just at the skin lymphoma, to try to avoid side effects in the rest of the body. There are many ways to do this.
Surgery: This is rarely the only treatment for skin lymphoma, but it might be used to treat some types of skin lymphomas that can be removed completely. Even then, other types of treatment may be used as well.
Radiation: This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It may be used as the main treatment for some skin lymphomas. The treatment is a lot like getting an x-ray. The radiation is stronger, but it is still painless.;
The most common side effects are skin changes in the area being treated. If a large part of the body is treated, it might cause loss of all hair on the body, and even the loss of fingernails and toenails.
, also known as UV light therapy: UV light can be used to treat some skin lymphomas. Treatment is given a few times a week with a special lamp, which is like those used in tanning salons. Sometimes a drug is taken as a pill before each treatment to help it work better. This type of treatment is called PUVA.;
Just like when you are exposed to sunlight outside, treatment with UV light can cause sunburn. If pills are taken as part of PUVA, they can make the skin very sensitive to sunlight, so you will need to protect yourself from sunlight in the days after treatment.
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Red Pinpricks With Flu
A red pinprick rash under the skin can signal meningitis, a sometimes fatal condition.;
The symptoms of meningitis mimic the flu , and the rash may not always occur early on.
It starts as small, red pinpricks before spreading quickly and turning into red or purple blotches, the NHS says.
You can check if you or your child has it by pressing a glass against the rash – if it does not fade on pressure, then it is caused by meningitis.;
It can be a sign of sepsis caused by meningitis and you should call 999 straight away.
All parents are told to vaccinate their babies against meningitis very early on.
Prevention And Early Detection Are Crucial
As with other types of cancer, melanoma is easiest to treat when caught in its earliest stages, says Puzanov. With any form of skin cancer, prevention is your best line of defense. Wearing sunscreen and avoiding artificial tanning are two big steps. Id also suggest wearing sunglasses, since you could develop an ocular melanoma , and those can be hard to detect early.
Knowing your body is important. If there are any changes in the size, shape or color of your moles or birthmarks, you need to get those checked out. Dr. Puzanov also suggests that you take advantage of skin screenings. You could have melanoma for a long time before you realize it, because some types are not so obvious. Some aggressive forms, like nodular melanoma, grow fast, are visible and can hurt or bleed.
While certain groups may be at a higher risk for melanoma, anyone can get the disease. Any warnings we give dont apply just to fair-skinned people or high-risk individuals. To someone just diagnosed from a lower-risk group, the odds dont mean anything. Puzanov stresses that everyone needs protection when going out into the sun.
Perform a Skin Self Exam
Find out how to perform an skin self exam and consult a physician if you have noticed anything unusual or irregular.
Treatment Options For Skin Cancer
If youre diagnosed with melanoma, your doctor will evaluate how deep the tumor has grown into your skin and how far it has spread in your body. Once the depth has been determined, your doctor can develop a personalized plan for skin cancer treatment. Sometimes, a biopsy can remove all of the cancerous tissue, and no further treatment is necessary. In most cases, though, youll need to have the lesion and part of the normal skin around it removed.Removal can be done using a variety of techniques: freezing, scraping and burning, excision and radiation therapy. Some of these techniques can be performed right in your doctors office, using a local anesthetic. Other skin cancer treatment options include:
Moving On After Skin Cancer
Some amount of feeling depressed, anxious, or worried is normal after being diagnosed with cancer. Some people are affected more than others. But everyone can benefit from help and support from other people, whether friends and family, religious groups, support groups, professional counselors, or others. Learn more in Life After Cancer.
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Can A Basal Or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Come Back
Living as a Basal or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Survivor. For most people with basal or squamous cell skin cancers, treatment will remove or destroy the cancer. Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer growing or coming back.
Red Spots Under The Skin: Blood Clotting Issues
If you notice purple spots under the skin, ranging in sizes from small dots to large patches, it could signal a blood clotting disorder.
The rash is called purpura, which can be either caused by low or high levels of platelets – cells in the blood that cause clotting.
Examples of things that could cause this rash include weak blood vessels, scurvy, medications or vaccines, infection such a HIV or Hepatitis C, or a condition present from birth.
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What Skin Cancer Looks Like
Skin cancer appears on the body in many different ways. It can look like a:
Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others
Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns
Brown or black streak under a nail
It can also show up in other ways.
To find skin cancer on your body, you dont have to remember a long list. Dermatologists sum it up this way. Its time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:
Differs from the others
To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. Youll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. Theres even place to record what your spots look like. Youll find this page, which you can print, at Body Mole Map.
Skin Cancer Treatment In Older Adults
According to Dr. Truong, Some of my older patients tell me they prefer to leave skin cancer untreated. Every patient has unique attributes and a different picture of overall health, therefore, the pros and cons of leaving cancer untreated must be thoroughly discussed to determine the most appropriate management. Most of the time, I will recommend treatment to avoid further complications in the future, however, in some cases, it is more appropriate to defer treatment. Each patient situation will be different, but at any age, a serious conversation with your dermatologist is necessary to determine whether or not skin cancer treatment is necessary for your specific situation.
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Squamous Cell Carcinoma Stages
There are certain features that are considered to make the cancer at higher risk for spreading or recurrence, and these may also be used to stage squamous cell carcinomas. These include:
- Greater than 2 mm in thickness
- Invasion into the lower dermis or subcutis layers of the skin
- Invasion into the tiny nerves in the skin
- Location on the ear or on a hair-bearing lip
After the TNM components and risk factors have been established, the cancer is assigned to one of the five squamous cell carcinoma stages, which are labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of squamous cell cancer are:
Stage 0: Also called carcinoma in situ, cancer discovered in this stage is only present in the epidermis and has not spread deeper to the dermis.
Stage;1 squamous cell carcinoma: The cancer is less than 2 centimeters, about 4/5 of an inch across, has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, and has one or fewer high-risk features.
Stage 2;squamous;cell carcinoma: The cancer is larger than 2 centimeters across, and has not spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, or a tumor of any size with 2 or more high risk features.
Stage 3;squamous;cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.
Stage 4;squamous;cell carcinoma: The cancer can be any size and has spread to 1 or more lymph nodes which are larger than 3 cm and may have spread to bones or other organs in the body.
Who Gets Skin Cancer
Skin cancer tends to affect people of light skin color because they’re born with the least amount of protective melanin in their skin. The odds are highest if you’re:
- A blue-eyed blonde
- Someone with a pigment disorder, such as albinism
People with many freckles or moles, particularly odd-looking ones, may be vulnerable to melanoma. It’s possible for dark-skinned people to get skin cancer, but it’s rare and usually on lighter areas of their body, such as the soles of the feet or under fingernails or toenails.
Where you live also plays a role. Places with intense sunshine, such as Arizona and Hawaii, have a larger share of people with skin cancer. It’s more common in places where fair-skinned people moved from less sunny areas, like Australia, which was settled largely by fair-skinned people of Irish and English descent.
About 3 times more men than women get skin cancer. It’s more likely when you’re older. Most people diagnosed are between ages 45 and 54, although more younger people are now being affected. If you or any close relatives have had skin cancer, your chances go up.
How Is Melanoma Diagnosed
If you have a mole or other spot that looks suspicious, your doctor may remove it and look at it under the microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.
After your doctor receives the skin biopsy results showing evidence of melanoma cells, the next step is to determine if the melanoma has spread. This is called staging. Once diagnosed, melanoma will be categorized based on several factors, such as how deeply it has spread and its appearance under the microscope. Tumor thickness is the most important characteristic in predicting outcomes.
Melanomas are grouped into the following stages:
- Stage 0 : The melanoma is only in the top layer of skin .
- Stage I: Low-risk primary melanoma with no evidence of spread. This stage is generally curable with surgery.
- Stage II: Features are present that indicate higher risk of recurrence, but there is no evidence of spread.
- Stage III: The melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes or nearby skin.
- Stage IV: The melanoma has spread to more distant lymph nodes or skin or has spread to internal organs.
Ask About Your Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Among the most common treatments for facial skin cancer is Mohs surgery. Mohs involves removing the cancer in thin layers. This approach helps preserve surrounding healthy tissue and has a very high cure rate.
Mohs can be a lengthy process, taking several hours or longer, says Dr. Lee. I do everything I can to keep my patients comfortable and inform them of how things are going at each step.
Dr. Lee adds that not everyone with skin cancer on the face will need Mohs surgery. There may be other treatment options that are right for you. Its OK to ask. And if you do have options, ask your doctor to explain the pros and cons of each before you make your decision, she says.
Sometimes Mohs really is the best option for facial cancer, however. Thats typically the case with skin cancer on the nose or eyelid. The nose and the eyelid are tougher areas to treat for a variety of reasons, says Dr. Lee. It takes finesse to achieve excellent cosmetic results in these areas. Removing a cancer from the eyelid also has a lot of challenges related to how the eyelid functions and feels to the patient after the surgery.
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How Does The Doctor Know I Have Skin Cancer
Basal and squamous skin cancer may look like:
- Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas that look a lot like a scar
- Raised reddish patches that might itch
- Rough or scaly red patches, which might crust or bleed
- Small, pink or red, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas
- Pink growths or lumps with raised edges and a lower center
- Open sores that dont heal, or that heal and then come back
- Wart-like growths
A Patchy Red Rash That Can Turn Scaly: Lymphoma
Mycosis fungoides is a common rash in patients diagnosed with lymphoma.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system – the network of tissues and organs in our body that work to rid us of toxins.
It can be particularly dangerous because the cancerous cells can travel through the body in the bloodstream.
The cancer cells can then grow in several places at once, affecting multiple parts of the body.
A person with lymphoma may develop mycosis fungoides, a rash that is caused when the blood travels to the upper layer of the skin.
In its early stages it may appear as a patchy red rash but as it progresses it tends to become scaly.
It may be itchy and look;similar to eczema.
Keeping Health Insurance And Copies Of Your Medical Records
Even after treatment, its very important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
At some point after your cancer treatment, you might find yourself seeing a new doctor who doesnt know about your medical history. Its important to keep copies of your medical records to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Learn more in Keeping Copies of Important Medical Records.
How Do You Treat Stage 4 Melanoma
The good news is that even stage 4 melanoma can be treated. The sooner the cancer is found, the sooner it can be removed and the higher your chances are for recovery. Stage 4 melanoma also has the most treatment options, but these options depend on:
- where the cancer is
- how advanced the cancer has become
- your age and overall health
How you respond to treatment also affects your treatment options. The five standard treatments for melanoma are:
- surgery: to remove the primary tumor and affected lymph nodes
- chemotherapy: a drug treatment to stop growth of cancer cells
- radiation therapy: the application of high-energy X-rays to inhibit growth and cancer cells
- immunotherapy: treatment to boost your immune system
- targeted therapy: the use of drugs or other substances to attack cancer drugs
Other treatments may also depend on where the cancer has spread to. Your doctor will discuss your options with you to help map out a treatment plan.
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What About Other Treatments I Hear About
When you have a skin lymphoma you might hear about other ways to treat the cancer or treat your symptoms. These may not always be standard medical treatments. These treatments may be vitamins, herbs, special diets, and other things. You may wonder about these treatments.
Some of these might help, but many have not been tested. Some have been shown not to help. A few have even been found to be harmful. Talk to your doctor about anything youre thinking about using, whether its a vitamin, a diet, or anything else.