Skin Cancer Support Groups And Counseling
Living with skin cancer presents many new challenges for you and for your family and friends. You will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect you and your ability to “live a normal life,” that is, to care for your family and home, to hold your job, and to continue the friendships and activities you enjoy.
Many people with a skin cancer diagnosis feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful others feel helpless and defeated. For most people with skin cancer, talking about their feelings and concerns helps. Your friends and family members can be very supportive. They may be hesitant to offer support until they see how you are coping. Don’t wait for them to bring it up. If you want to talk about your concerns, let them know.
Some people don’t want to “burden” their loved ones, or prefer talking about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful. Your dermatologist or oncologist should be able to recommend someone.
Many people with cancer are profoundly helped by talking to other people who have cancer. Sharing your concerns with others who have been through the same thing can be remarkably reassuring. Support groups for people with cancer may be available through the medical center where you are receiving your treatment. The American Cancer Society also has information about support groups throughout the U.S.
Three Types Of Skin Cancers
Basal cell skin cancer
- usually very curable by surgical excision
Squamous cell cancer
- second most common and worrisome skin cancer
- generally curable with surgery or other treatments
- most worrisome of all skin cancers
- can travel through bloodstream or lymphatic system to other parts of the body
- can be lethal
- can be curable with early detection
Why You Need It How It Works For You
The big picture: Sunscreen is an important part of a complete sun protection strategy. But sunscreen alone isnt enough to keep you safe in the sun.
When used as directed, sunscreen is proven to:
Help prevent premature skin aging caused by the sun, including wrinkles, sagging and age spots.
KNOW THE 5 WS OF SUNSCREEN
WHO: Everyone under the sunWHAT: Broad spectrum SPF 15 or higher SPF 30 or higher for a day outdoorsWHEN: Every day 30 minutes prior to going outdoors. Reapply every two hoursWHERE: All exposed skinHOW: One ounce to entire body for each applicationWHY: Reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer!
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What Is The Outlook For Patients With Melanoma
Melanoma in situ is cured by excision because it has no potential to spread around the body.
The risk of spread and ultimate death from invasive melanoma depends on several factors, but the main one is the Breslow thickness of the melanoma at the time it was surgically removed.
Metastases are rare for melanomas < 0.75 mm and the risk for tumours 0.751 mm thick is about 5%. The risk steadily increases with thickness so that melanomas > 4 mm have a risk of metastasis of about 40%.
Skin Cancer: Whats Your Melanoma Risk
Skin cancer is, by far, the most common form of cancer. While skin cancer on its own is generally easy to manage once caught because the condition grows slowly, there are more aggressive skin cancer types that can be more deadly if not detected early enough.
Melanoma accounts for just 1% of all skin cancer cases but is responsible for a large majority of deaths from skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 100,000 new melanoma diagnoses each year, while nearly 7,000 people die from the disease annually.
Melanoma cases are generally on the rise. Despite this and somber melanoma-related statistics, the condition is highly treatable if caught early. Learn more about prevention tips and other important considerations to help protect yourself against melanoma.
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Set A Regular Scan Reminder
You wont know whats weird if you dont carve out time to look. The Cleveland Clinic recommends a monthly scan, though some doctors say you can opt for a quarterly skin check instead.
If you dont examine yourself at least once a month, you dont have a good mental memory of what you look like, so you wont be able to spot change, Dr. Halpern said.
To scan, stand in front of a full-length mirror have a hand mirror on deck for hard-to-reach places. Start systematically, from the top of your head down. Dont forget your scalp and neck, or under the nails.The Skin Cancer Foundation has a guide, and the American Academy of Dermatology Association has a video tutorial.
And remember, look for weird. If theres a mole that you think looks out of the ordinary, get it checked out. You can also take pictures of your moles so you can compare them on your next scan. If youre noticing changes, or if you develop a sore that does not heal, call a dermatologist.
Other Cancers And Pre
Actinic Keratosis is a common pre-cancerous growth that may develop into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. This growth appears as a rough, scaly patch on your skin that may be pink-red or flesh colored and develops from years of exposure to the sun. Its most commonly found on the face, lips, ears, back of the hands, forearms, scalp, or neck.
Keratoacanthoma is a low-grade, slow growing and typically benigntumor that looks like a tiny dome or crater. Keratoacanthoma originates in the skins hair follicles and often goes away on its own. KA is considered by some to be a highly differentiated form of squamous cell carcinoma.
Kaposi Sarcoma KS is not a skin cancer but a cancer that can appear on the skin or on mucosal surfaces. The lesions or tumors are often brownish-red to purple or blue in color and usually found on the legs, feet and face. This cancer is caused by a type of herpes virus, typically in patients with weakened immune systems, such as those with AIDS.
Lymphoma of the Skin, or Cutaneous Lymphoma, is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that can appear as a rash or bumps on the skin. Most cases of lymphoma form in the lymph nodes, but lymphomas may also develop in other lymphoid tissue, including the spleen, bone marrow, and skin.
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Infiltrative Basal Cell Carcinoma
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Infiltrative basal cell carcinoma occurs when a tumor makes its way into the dermis via thin strands between collagen fibers. This aggressive type of skin cancer is harder to diagnose and treat because of its location. Typically, infiltrative basal cell carcinoma appears as scar tissue or thickening of the skin and requires a biopsy to properly diagnose.
To remove this type of basal cell carcinoma, a specific form of surgery, called Mohs, is used. During a Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, thin layers of skin are removed until there is no cancer tissue left.
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Superficial basal cell carcinoma, also known as in situ basal-cell carcinoma, tends to occur on the shoulders or the upper part of the torso, but it can also be found on the legs and arms. This type of cancer isnt generally invasive because it has a slow rate of growth and is fairly easy to spot and diagnose. It appears reddish or pinkish in color and may crust over or ooze. Superficial basal cell carcinoma accounts for roughly 15%-26% of all basal cell carcinoma cases.
This All Might Change
There is still hope for a future of superficial radiation for the treatment of melanoma. Scientists in Australia, the country with the highest rate of melanoma in the world, are studying treatment plans that improve the effectiveness of radiation on melanomas. While still in their experimental phases, the case studies apply higher doses, radiosensitizing drugs, and even heat to help destroy these cells.
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How Dangerous Is Melanoma
Melanoma is usually curable when detected and treated early. Once melanoma has spread deeper into the skin or other parts of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat and can be deadly.
- The estimated five-year survival rate for U.S. patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent.
- An estimated 7,180 people will die of melanoma in the U.S. in 2021.
Benign Tumors That Develop From Other Types Of Skin Cells
- Seborrheic keratoses: tan, brown, or black raised spots with a waxy texture
- Hemangiomas: benign blood vessel growths, often called strawberry spots
- Lipomas: soft growths made up of fat cells
- Warts: rough-surfaced growths caused by some types of human papilloma virus
Most of these tumors rarely, if ever, turn into cancers. There are many other kinds of benign skin tumors, but most are not very common.
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How Is Melanoma Staged
The stage of a cancer describes how much the cancer has grown and invaded the area, explaining the extent of the disease. In order to guide treatment and offer some insight into prognosis, melanoma is staged into four different groups:
- Melanoma in-situ/Stage 0: The melanoma is present only in the epidermis. A Breslow thickness and Clark’s level are not used for this early-stage lesion.
- Stage I and II: The cancer is only on the skin and has not moved to another part of the body.
- Stage III: The melanoma has spread to local lymph nodes or to the area around the original skin site .
- Stage IV: Distant metastasis is present .
Healthcare providers also use the TNM system . This system describes the size and local invasiveness of the tumor if any, lymph nodes are involved , and if it has spread to other more distant areas of the body . It is then given a stage somewhere from I meaning more limited disease to IV meaning more advanced disease. You may be given a Breslow Depth or Clark Level measurement. These measurements describe the depth of the lesion.
The staging system is very complex, and the entire staging system is outlined at the end of this article. Though complicated, the staging system helps healthcare providers determine the extent of the cancer, and in turn, make treatment decisions for a patient’s cancer. The stage of cancer, or extent of disease, is based on information gathered through the various tests done as the diagnosis and work-up of the cancer is being done.
Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are by far the most common skin cancers, and actually are more common than any other form of cancer. Because they rarely spread to other parts of the body, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are usually less concerning and are treated differently from melanoma. These cancers are discussed in Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer.
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Why Don’t We Use Radiation Therapy For Melanoma
Skin cancer-treating machines that facilitate superficial radiation therapy are popping up in dermatology offices worldwide, and all of them are advertising the same thing: a non-surgical treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers. But why does superficial radiation therapy work for some skin cancers and not others? What makes a melanoma diagnosis different from that of basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas? More importantly, what makes it untreatable with SRT?
What Is The Clark Level Of Invasion
The Clark level indicates the anatomic plane of invasion.
- Level 1: In situ melanoma
- Level 2: Melanoma has invaded the papillary dermis
- Level 3: Melanoma has filled the papillary dermis
- Level 4: Melanoma has invaded the reticular dermis
- Level 5: Melanoma has invaded the subcutaneous tissue
Deeper Clark levels have a greater risk of metastasis. It is useful in predicting outcome in thin tumours. It is less useful than Breslow thickness for thick tumours.
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How Can I Prevent Melanoma
The best way to prevent melanoma is to protect the skin from ultraviolet light, including natural UV light from the sun and artificial UV light from tanning devices.
Some ways to protect your skin from UV light include:
- Do not use tanning salons or expose yourself to other artificial sources of UV light.
- Avoid being out in the sun between 10am and 4pm.
- Seek the shade when outdoors.
- Wear protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, pants, a hat, and sunglasses. You can wear clothing that has built-in sun protection factor .
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or greater every day, even in the winter! Sunscreen use is very important for children because sunburns during childhood greatly increase the risk of melanoma later in life. Everyday use of sunscreen can reduce further skin damage in people with a history of extensive sun exposure.
- You should check your own skin about once a month. Be aware of the shapes and coloring of any moles you have. Melanoma may start from a mole you already have, causing it to change how it looks. Look at your skin routinely in a mirror, including your back, bottom of your feet, nail beds, and scalp. Look for changes in existing moles, or for new ones.
Moles that should be looked at by your provider are ones that have the “ABCDE” characteristics:
These rules are not set in stone, which is why you should be aware of your own moles and report any changes in moles to a provider.
Will Your Melanin Protect You From The Sun
They also thanked each other profusely. Hamilton thanked Popovici for her life-changing efforts, and Popovici thanked his wife for taking a look and encouraging him to take it seriously.
Popovici also said she has been accepted to several medical schools and will start school in the fall, calling this experience a “pretty priceless” way to kick off that journey.
The NHL, however, did put a price tag on her heroism. The Kraken and Canucks partnered to award her a $10,000 scholarship, which they announced during the game as Popovici’s stunned reaction was captured on camera.
Together with the , we awarded Nadia Popovici a $10,000 scholarship for medical school as a show of our appreciation ð
â Vancouver #Canucks
As NHL.com has reported, Hamilton was especially shocked that Popovici had managed to even see the mole, since he was wearing a jacket with a radio attached to the back.
But you don’t have to be a future medical student to spot melanoma, which is a serious form of skin cancer.
Experts say you should look for these features: asymmetry, border irregularity, color changes, diameter greater than 1/4 inch and evolving . And here’s more from NPR on how to apply sunscreen for maximum protection.
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Symptoms If Cancer Has Spread To The Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.
The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they feel hard or swollen. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area can make it hard to swallow.
Cancer cells can also stop lymph fluid from draining away. This might lead to swelling in the neck or face due to fluid buildup in that area. The swelling is called lymphoedema.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Common In Sun
Squamous cell carcinoma, also called squamous cell cancer, is the second most common type of skin cancer. It accounts for about 20 percent of cases.
This type of cancer starts in flat cells in the outer part of the epidermis. It commonly crops up on sun-exposed areas, such as the face, ears, neck, lips, and hands. It can also develop on scars or chronic sores.
Squamous cell carcinomas may develop from precancerous skin spots, known as actinic keratosis .
These cancers might look like:
- A firm, red bump
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
- A sore that heals and then reopens
People with lighter skin are more at risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma, but the skin cancer can also affect those with darker skin.
Other risk factors include:
- Having light eyes, blond or red hair, or freckles
- Being exposed to the sun or tanning beds
- Having a history of skin cancer
- Having a history of sunburns
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having the genetic disorder xeroderma pigmentosum
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Causes Of Skin Cancer
UV rays cause skin cancer by creating changes in the cells of your skin. In some cases, the UV rays cause direct damage to your cells. Tans and sunburns, for example, are both signs that UV rays have damaged your skin. In other cases, UV rays cause skin cancer indirectly, by weakening the immune system.
Many studies on skin cancer show that people who have suffered many severe sunburns in childhood are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Family history, some chemical exposures, and immune dysfunction conditions can also create a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Tools That Can Help You Find Melanoma On Your Skin
To help you find melanoma early, the American Academy of Dermatology developed the following:
Melanoma can look different on a childs skin. Taking this short quiz can help you hone your skills at finding childhood melanoma.
ImagesImages 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,10: Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.
Image 2: Developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Image 9: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
ReferencesBarnhill RL, Mihm MC, et al. Malignant melanoma. In: Nouri K, et al. Skin Cancer. McGraw Hill Medical, China, 2008: 140-167.
Gloster HM Jr, Neal K. Skin cancer in skin of color. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 55:741-60.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN guidelines for patients: Melanoma. 2018. Last accessed February 12, 2019.
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