Recommendations For Prevention And Early Detection Of Skin Cancer In People Of Color
Prevention is better than cure and more than 90% of skin cancers are preventable . Because many people of color believe that they are not at risk of skin cancer, education through media and doctors offices is extremely important. People of color should perform regular self examination of their skin from head to the toe carefully every month. There are various types of skin tumors, many are benign which include moles , warts and lipomas etc that can develop from different types of skin cells . However, unusual moles, sores, lumps, blemishes, markings or changes in the way an area of the skin looks or feels may be a sign of melanoma or another type of skin cancer or a warning that it might occur. Know your ABCDEs can be a good guide for people of color to detect melanoma at an early stage .
How to Detect Melanoma Source:The Skin Cancer Foundation
How Can I Help My Child Live With Skin Cancer
If your child has skin cancer, you can help him or her during treatment in these ways:
Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help.
Your child may be very tired. He or she will need to learn to balance rest and activity.
Get emotional support for your child. Counselors and support groups can help.
Keep all follow-up appointments.
Keep your child out of the sun.
After treatment, check your child’s skin every month or as often as advised.
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.
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Can You Die From Skin Cancer If Youre Diagnosed With Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually involves the head or neck and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than basal cell carcinoma, although this happens infrequently. Patients with specific disease risk factors are more likely to experience metastasis and die from the disease, according to the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The choice of treatment depends on the tumors size, location, depth of penetration, and the patients age and health. Of the eight treatment options, five involve surgery. The cure rate is 95 percent if the patient is treated early.
To prevent SCC, avoid sun exposure and protect your skin by wearing clothes that cover the arms, legs, face, neck, and ears. Wear SPF 30 to 50 sunscreen on all exposed skin, and stay away from tanning beds. A study of more than 9,000 patients found that people who use tanning beds have a 67 percent increased risk of non-melanoma cancer, including both SCC and BCC.
What Causes Skin Cancer
Most skin cancers occur due to repeated and prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays from sunlight. Apart from sunlight, artificial sources, such as tanning beds, can cause skin cancer. UV rays can damage the DNA inside the skin cells, which is the source of instructions for everything that cells do.
DNA consists of genes responsible for providing instructions for cell growth and division.
Two types of genes are associated with cancer development:
DNA mutations causing the activation of oncogenes and inactivation of tumor suppressor genes can lead to cancer. Researchers have found that in many skin cancers, the cells have alteration in the tumor suppressor genes.
The tumor suppressor genes mostly altered are:
- Squamous cell cancers:TP53 tumor suppressor genes.
- Basal cell cancers:PTCH1 or PTCH2 genes.
Apart from these causes, other causes include:
- Xeroderma pigmentosum: People with xeroderma pigmentosum have a high risk of skin cancer. People with XP have less ability to repair DNA damage caused by sunlight. As a result, they often develop cancer on sun-exposed areas of their skin.
- Human papillomavirus: Human papillomavirus has genes that affect the growth-regulating proteins of the infected skin cells. As a result, the skin cells grow out of control and do not die when they are supposed to.
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See A Suspicious Spot See A Dermatologist
If you find a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer, its time to see a dermatologist. Found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. Often a dermatologist can treat an early skin cancer by removing the cancer and a bit of normal-looking skin.
Given time to grow, treatment for skin cancer becomes more difficult.
Not All Cancers Cause Death
Firstly, it’s important to say that not all cancers cause death. Overall, half of the people diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales live for 10 years or more. Cancer survival is improving and has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.
Cancer at an early stage doesnt usually kill you. So a lot of effort is put into early diagnosis when treatment is likely to work best.
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Warning: Graphic Image Below
If not treated it may eventually cause dramatic disfigurement yet will very rarely metastasize in even the most neglected cases.
Many years of basal cell carcinoma neglect. Apparently this patient didnt know that cancer was eating away at his face.
Squamous cell carcinoma which will likely metastasize if left untreated begins insidiously, appearing first as a faded pink and very flat patchy area on the skin.
A person can go for years without knowing that this usually slow growing skin cancer is progressing.
Many people even in industrialized nations do not check their skin monthly and never get clinical exams and may even be fully aware of a new lesion yet get so used to it that it never dawns on them that its malignant.
There may be the It cant happen to me mindset, along with those who are afraid of what the doctor might find, and those who avoid doctors because they dont have health insurance or because they are cognitively impaired.
Often, people will notice something growing on their face or scalp but chalk it up to older age or benign damage from the sun.
Its possible to have melanoma for several years without knowing it, because some kinds of melanomas grow rather slowly and spread out laterally before they begin burrowing vertically into deeper layers of skin tissue.
Melanoma on the bottom of a foot.
Stages Of Skin Cancer
If you receive a skin cancer diagnosis, the next step is to identify its stage.
Staging is how doctors determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body. Staging is common with melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma, because these cancers are more likely to spread.
Typically, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas dont involve staging. These skin cancers are easily treated and dont usually spread. However, your doctor may recommend staging for larger lesions.
Staging is based on the size of the growth and whether it has high-risk features. High-risk features include:
- larger than 2 millimeters thick
- spreads into the lower levels of the skin
- spreads into the space around a nerve
- appears on the lips or ears
- appears abnormal under a microscope
Heres a general breakdown of skin cancer stages:
- Stage 0. The cancer hasnt spread to surrounding areas of the skin.
- Stage 1. The cancer is 2 centimeters across or less, with no high-risk features.
- Stage 2. The cancer is more than 2 cm across and has a least two high-risk features.
- Stage 3. The cancer has spread to the bones in the face or nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 4. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or internal organs.
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What Happens When Skin Cancer Goes Untreated
If you notice an abnormality on your skin you may be tempted to ignore it. However, if it is skin cancer you could be putting your health at risk by waiting to get a skin and mole check. There are three main types of skin cancer in Australia with melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and they each have their own set of unique characteristics. The most important thing to remember is that if you delay treatment of skin cancer it could have life threatening consequences:
Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of cancer, but also the least likely to spread. In particular, BCCs rarely spread beyond the initial tumor site. However, left untreated, BCCs can grow deeper into the skin and damage surrounding skin, tissue, and bone. Occasionally, a BCC can become aggressive, spreading to other parts of the body and even becoming life threatening. Also, the longer you wait to have your BCC treated, the more likely it is to return after treatment. Like BCCs, SCCs are highly curable when caught and treated early. However, if left to develop without treatment, an SCC can become invasive to skin and tissue beyond the original skin cancer site, causing disfigurement and even death. Over 15,000 Americans die each year from SCCs. And even if untreated carcinomas dont result in death, they can lead to large, open lesions on the skin that can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and infection.
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What Are The Signs Of Skin Cancer
The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on your skin, typically a new growth, or a change in an existing growth or mole. The signs and symptoms of common and less common types of skin cancers are described below.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell cancer is most commonly seen on sun-exposed areas of skin including your hands, face, arms, legs, ears, mouths, and even bald spots on the top of your head. Basal cell cancer is the most common type of skin cancer in the world. In most people, its slow growing, usually doesnt spread to other parts of the body and is not life-threatening.
Signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include:
- A small, smooth, pearly or waxy bump on the face, ears, and neck.
- A flat, pink/red- or brown-colored lesion on the trunk or arms and legs.
- Areas on the skin that look like scars.
- Sores that look crusty, have a depression in the middle or bleed often.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell cancer is most commonly seen on sun-exposed areas of skin including your hands, face, arms, legs, ears, mouths, and even bald spots on the top of your head. This skin cancer can also form in areas such as mucus membranes and genitals.
Signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include:
- A firm pink or red nodule.
- A rough, scaly lesion that might itch, bleed and become crusty.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma include:
- A brown-pigmented patch or bump.
- A mole that changes in color, size or that bleeds.
Does Skin Cancer Affect People With Skin Of Color
People of all skin tones can develop skin cancer. If you are a person of color, you may be less likely to get skin cancer because you have more of the brown pigment, melanin, in your skin.
Although less prevalent than in nonwhite people, when skin cancer does develop in people of color, its often found late and has a worse prognosis. If youre Hispanic, the incidence of melanoma has risen by 20% in the past two decades. If youre Black and develop melanoma, your five-year survival rate is 25% lower than it is for white people . Part of the reason may be that it develops in less typical, less sun-exposed areas and its often in late-stage when diagnosed.
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Leaving Squamous Cell Carcinoma Untreated
The third type of skin cancer we have to be cautious of in Australia is squamous cell carcinoma. This is potentially life threatening and is most dangerous when found on the face, lips, ears or neck. As it grows, there is the chance it may spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, and while it isnt as fast growing as melanoma, it still requires treatment.
You may notice squamous cell carcinoma in the top layer of your skin and it will likely be red and scaly. Surgery is often used for removal, but if it has progressed significantly some reconstruction to the face may be needed. This is the second most common form of skin cancer, and can be quite painful to touch.
All skin cancer has the potential to be fatal, and regular checks and any necessary treatment is recommended. Melanoma is by far the most serious form of skin cancer, and if suspected you should seek an urgent skin check. Please contact My Skin Centre to book your appointment in the Perth region.
Readers Ask: How Can Skin Cancer Kill You
Cancer kills by growing into key organs, nerves, or blood vessels and interfering with and impairing their function. It can begin in almost any human cell. Usually, new cells form through growth and division. Cells die once they become too old or damaged, and newly formed cells replace them.21-Dec-2020
Can skin cancer kill you?
- Ones that are very slow growing, and the ONE that you must take serious. Skin cancer can kill you. The most dangerous type of skin cancer is fast growing and can easily metastasize .
What Are The Stages Of Death From Cancer
While the stages of death from cancer are different for every patient, and not everyone will experience the symptoms below, here is a general list of the stages and symptoms of death from cancer. Additionally, if you have questions you can contact us 24/7 using the blue bar above.
During the Final Weeks:
- A Lost of Interest in Most Things/Inability to Concentrate: The patient may start to lose interest in things such as the news, entertainment, sports, etc., and may also be unable to concentrate or hold a conversation. Activities that used to interest the patient may now be of no interest. While this can be distressing to the family caregiver, it is not out of the ordinary in the final weeks of cancer.
- Exhaustion, Weakness, and Desire to Sleep: The cancer patient may become much weaker and more easily exhausted during these last weeks. They may want to sleep often because of this, as well as spend most of their day in bed.
- Loss of Appetite: They may lose much of their appetite or have difficulty eating and drinking.
During the Final Days:
Medical Treatment For Skin Cancer
Surgical removal is the mainstay of therapy for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. For more information, see Surgery.
People who cannot undergo surgery may be treated by external radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is the use of a small beam of radiation targeted at the skin lesion. The radiation kills the abnormal cells and destroys the lesion. Radiation therapy can cause irritation or burning of the surrounding normal skin. It can also cause fatigue. These side effects are temporary. In addition, a topical cream has recently been approved for the treatment of certain low-risk nonmelanoma skin cancers.
In advanced cases, immune therapies, vaccines, or chemotherapy may be used. These treatments are typically offered as clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies of new therapies to see if they can be tolerated and work better than existing therapies.
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Major Types Of Treatments
Although surgical modalities remain the mainstay of treatment, new research and fresh innovation are still required to reduce morbidity and mortality . There has been innovation in skin cancer treatment in the last few years than in the previous 30 years . Here, we are not discussing treatment methodology in details but just an outline of currently applicable standard treatments for skin cancer is given .
Surgery: Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be successfully treated with surgery and early-stage melanomas are also cured. Thin layers are removed until no more cancer cells are seen.
Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to kill cancer cells or prevent them from growing. It is used when cancer is widely spread, recurred and surgery is not possible.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapeutic drugs are usually given as injection or taken by mouth as a pill. They travel through the bloodstream to all parts of the body and attack cancer cells and stop their growth by killing them or by stopping them from dividing.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is the emerging new type of treatment that stimulates a persons own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively.
Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to attack cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do.