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How Does Skin Cancer Happen

Curettage Electrodesiccation And Cryotherapy

What Is Cancer and How Does it Occur?

Some dermatologists perform curettage, electrodesiccation, and cryotherapy to treat skin cancer. These are considered to be destructive techniques that are best suited for small, superficial carcinomas with definite borders. During the procedure, layers of skin cells are scraped away using a curette. Any remaining cancer cells are destroyed with the use of an electric needle.

In some cases, liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy is used to freeze the margins of the treatment area. Extremely low temperatures kill the malignant skin cells and create a wound, which will heal in a few weeks. The treatment may leave scars that are flat and round, similar to the size of the skin cancer lesion.

What Is The Prognosis For Skin Cancer

Although the number of skin cancers in the United States continues to rise, more and more skin cancers are being caught earlier, when they are easier to treat. Thus, illness and death rates have decreased.

When treated properly, the cure rate for both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma approaches 95%. The remaining cancers recur at some point after treatment.

  • Recurrences of these cancers are almost always local , but they often cause significant tissue destruction.
  • Less than 1% of squamous cell carcinomas will eventually spread elsewhere in the body and turn into dangerous cancer.

In most cases, the outcome of malignant melanoma depends on the thickness of the tumor at the time of treatment.

  • Thin lesions are almost always cured by simple surgery alone.
  • Thicker tumors, which usually have been present for some time but have gone undetected, may spread to other organs. Surgery removes the tumor and any local spread, but it cannot remove distant metastasis. Other therapies, new targeted agents or older approaches such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy, are used to treat the metastatic tumors.
  • Malignant melanoma causes more than 75% of deaths from skin cancer.
  • Of the approximately 70,000 malignant melanomas diagnosed in the United States in 2007, the vast majority were cured. Still, thousands of people die of melanoma each year.

Coping With Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Many people feel worried, depressed, and stressed when dealing with cancer. Getting treatment for cancer can be tough on the mind and body. Keep talking with your healthcare team about any problems or concerns you have. Work together to ease the effect of cancer and its symptoms on your daily life.

Here are some tips:

  • Join a cancer support group.

Cancer treatment is also hard on the body. To help yourself stay healthier, try to:

  • Eat a healthy diet, with a focus on high-protein foods.
  • Drink plenty of water, fruit juices, and other liquids.
  • Keep physically active.
  • Rest as much as needed.
  • Talk with your healthcare team about ways to manage treatment side effects.
  • Take your medicines as directed by your team.

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What Is A Biopsy

A proper diagnosis of cancer in the skin is made possible through biopsy. We will remove a skin tissue sample and send it to a laboratory. A pathologist will then examine your samples and look for abnormal cells that could be cancerous. Through a biopsy, you can also get accurate information about the stage of skin cancer you might have.

For advanced melanoma, we request imaging tests and lymph node biopsy to see whether cancer has affected other parts of the body. Additional evaluation is made possible using any or a combination of the following methods:

  • Computed tomography
  • Measurement of lactate dehydrogenase levels

See A Suspicious Spot See A Dermatologist

What Does Skin Cancer Look Like? A Visual Guide to Warning ...

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.

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Treatment For Skin Cancer

If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you may have multiple options for treatment. Based on the specifics of your case, your doctor will recommend your best course of action. The suggested methods for fighting the cancer may include:

  • Cryotherapy. In cryotherapy, a doctor freezes and kills precancerous or cancerous skin cells using liquid nitrogen. This technique is most often used to treat minor basal or squamous carcinomas or precancerous skin conditions.

  • Surgery. Different types of skin cancer may be removed by surgery. Surgery can be excisional – simply cutting out a cancerous area and the skin surrounding it – or may involve meticulous removal of layers of skin.

  • Radiation therapy. In radiation therapy, energy beams are used to kill cancerous cells. Radiation therapy may help finish off a cancer that was not fully removed by surgery, and can also be instrumental in cases that dont allow for surgery.

  • Chemotherapy. This type of therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. To treat some cases of skin cancer, chemotherapy may be applied locally through topical creams or lotions. It may also be administered by IV to target multiple body parts at once.

  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biological therapy, involves boosting the immune system to fight cancer cells. With the help of strengthening medicines, the immune system may be better prepared to kill cancerous cells.

What Do Stage 4 Tumors Look Like

A change to an existing mole or normal skin can be the first sign that the cancer has spread. But the physical symptoms of stage 4 melanoma arent the same for everyone. A doctor will diagnose stage 4 melanoma by looking at the primary tumor, the spread to nearby lymph nodes, and whether the tumor has spread to different organs. While your doctor wont base their diagnosis only on what your tumor looks like, part of their diagnosis involves looking at the primary tumor.

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What Are The Treatment Side Effects

Cancer treatment such as radiation can damage normal cells. This can cause side effects like red, dry, burning skin in the area being treated, risk of infection, and hair loss and rash in the treatment area.

Surgery is the most common way to treat nonmelanoma skin cancer. There are many methods of surgery that can be used to remove the cancer. Side effects from surgical procedures depend upon the type of procedure. They may include bruising, risk of infection, scarring, pain, redness, or swelling at the site.

Talk with your healthcare provider about side effects you might have and ways to manage them. There may be things you can do and medicines you can take to help prevent or control side effects.

What Is The Treatment For Skin Cancer

How Skin Cancer Can Spread – The Symptoms

    Treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma is straightforward. Usually, surgical removal of the lesion is adequate. Malignant melanoma, however, may require several treatment methods, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy or immunotherapy or both. Because of the complexity of treatment decisions, people with malignant melanoma may benefit from the combined expertise of the dermatologist, a cancer surgeon, and a medical oncologist.

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    Skin Cancer Undiagnosed For Over 10 Years

    The patient had neglected his illness for more than 10 years, says a case report in the International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons .

    The patient was a man, 48, living in a U.S. city. The medical attention was sought out due to the insistence of a family member, continues the paper.

    The cancer was basal cell carcinoma that had grown to 10 centimeters on his scalp. Somehow this patient didnt mind living with an ulcerating, oozing and bleeding growth on his head.

    Had he not sought treatment, he could have lived many more years barring death from an unrelated cause such as a heart attack or car accident.

    With that all said, there is no data on what the record is for how long a person lived with an undiagnosed skin cancer.

    Certainly you can imagine there must be many cases of people all over the world, living in undeveloped societies with scant medical care, let alone skin cancer awareness, whove been living for over 20 years with a slowly growing bump or patch.

    This would describe basal cell carcinoma.

    But a person will not get away for too long with an undiagnosed melanoma, as it WILL spread and cause symptoms of that spread, such as respiratory problems or ongoing severe headaches .

    Dr. Musick says that the following are common ways that skin cancer shows up:

    red bump that bleeds easily a scab or wound that just wont heal slowly enlarging pink or red patch of skin a dark irregularly-bordered bump or spot

    Steven Musick, MD

    .

    What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    Squamous cell carcinoma is also commonly found on parts of the body that are exposed to sun.2 In particular, SCC is found on the hands, forearms, face, and neck.4 SCC usually starts out as actinic keratosis. Actinic keratoses are scaly patches that develop when UV light damages the top layer of skin.6 An estimated 6% to 10% of actinic keratoses will spread into the dermis layer, becoming squamous cell carcinoma.4,6

    UV rays that damage the DNA contribute to SCC.2 The specific mutations that lead to some cases of SCC is an area of ongoing research.2 Scientists hope that this research will lead to new treatments that target certain mutations.

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    Screening For Skin Cancer

    Again, the best way to screen for skin cancer is knowing your own skin. If you are familiar with the freckles, moles, and other blemishes on your body, you are more likely to notice quickly if something seems unusual.

    To help spot potentially dangerous abnormalities, doctors recommend doing regular self-exams of your skin at home. Ideally, these self-exams should happen once a month, and should involve an examination of all parts of your body. Use a hand-held mirror and ask friends or family for help so as to check your back, scalp, and other hard-to-see areas of skin. If you or someone else notices a change on your skin, set up a doctors appointment to get a professional opinion.

    What Happens If They Find Something

    What parts of your body are most susceptible to skin cancer?

    If your doctor finds a spot that could be cancerous orpre-cancerous, theyll likely want to take a picture for your medical chart andperform a skin biopsy.

    During a biopsy, the doctor will remove a small amount of tissueto be examined under a microscope by a pathologist. This is a simple procedurethat can be done right then and there, in the office. Theyll clean the area ofskin where the spot is located, numb it with an injection of anesthesia, anduse a blade or scalpel to take a sample of the skin. You shouldnt feel anypain, aside from the pinch from the injection.

    That sample will be sent to the lab for testing, and your doctor willshare the results with you when they are available. This usually happens withina few days but could take up to a week or longer.

    If the spot turns out to be cancerous, it may need to becompletely removed or treated with other methods, Dr. Riley says.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

    The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, typically a new mole or skin lesion or a change in an existing mole.

    • Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small, smooth, pearly or waxy bump on the face, ears or neck, or as a flat pink, red or brown lesion on the trunk or arms and legs.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a firm, red nodule, or as a rough, scaly flat lesion that may bleed and become crusty. Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers mainly occur on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, but can occur anywhere.
    • Melanoma usually appears as a pigmented patch or bump but can also be red or white. It may resemble a normal mole, but usually has a more irregular appearance.

    When looking for melanoma, think of the ABCDE rule that tells you the signs to watch for:

    • Asymmetry — the shape of one half doesn’t match the other
    • Border — edges are ragged or blurred
    • Color — uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue
    • Diameter — A significant change in size , although any mole that is getting larger should be brought to the attention of your dermatologist many melanomas are being diagnosed at much smaller diameters.
    • Evolving — any new spot or mole that is changing in color, shape or size or itches or bleeds.

    Continued

    How The Government Of Canada Protects You

    The Public Health Agency of Canada monitors cancer in Canada. PHAC identifies trends and risk factors for cancer, develops programs to reduce cancer risks, and researches to evaluate risks from the environment and human behaviours. Health Canada also promotes public awareness about sun safety and the harmful effects of UV rays.

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    When To See A Doctor About Skin Cancer

    Many people, especially those who have fair coloring or have had extensive sun exposure, should periodically check their entire body for suggestive moles and lesions.

    Have your primary healthcare professional or a skin specialist check any moles or spots that concern you.

    See your healthcare professional to check your skin if you notice any changes in the size, shape, color, or texture of pigmented areas .

    If you have skin cancer, your skin specialist or cancer specialist will talk to you about symptoms of metastatic disease that might require care in a hospital.

    Can You Die From Skin Cancer If Youre Diagnosed With Merkel Cell Carcinoma

    What Is Melanoma? | Skin Cancer

    Merkel cell carcinoma has been compared to melanoma and is often treated like melanoma, but it is different. MCC is a relatively rare form of skin cancer that results in about 2,000 new cases per yearmost of them men over the age of 50. The risk continues to increase with age. Merkel cell carcinoma is fatal in approximately one-third of cases.

    MCC is caused by uncontrolled growth of Merkel cells located in the epidermis. The disease is likely to appear as a painless, red or violet-colored lump on the skin that has been overexposed to the sun, especially the head, neck, and arms.

    The cells grow rapidly and spread to nearby lymph nodes, then to distant nodes or skin in other parts of the body.

    In addition to age and exposure to sunlight, risk factors include a weakened immune system, exposure to artificial sunlight, use of drugs that weaken the immune system, and a history of other types of cancer.

    Treatment might require surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent metastasis.

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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.

    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

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    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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