How People Of Color Can Reduce Their Skin Cancer Risk
Dermatologists in the United States tell their patients with skin of color to reduce their risk of getting skin cancer by doing the following:
Seek shade whenever possible. The sun causes many skin cancers.
Wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat can shade your face and neck. You also want to wear shoes that cover the entire foot. African Americans often develop skin cancer on their feet.
Wear sunscreen. Yes, people of color should wear sunscreen. Dermatologists recommend that people of color use sunscreen that has:
Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors. You want to apply sunscreen to skin that will be bare. Be sure to apply sunscreen every day even on cloudy days.
When outdoors, reapply sunscreen. You want to reapply:
Never use tanning beds or sunlamps. These emit harmful UV rays, which can cause skin cancer.
Skin of color: How to prevent and detect skin cancer
Although people of color have a lower risk of developing skin cancer than Caucasians, when skin cancer develops in people of color, it is often diagnosed at a more advanced stage making it more difficult to treat.
Follow these tips from dermatologists to protect your skin from the sun and reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Learn More About Stages Of Skin Cancer
All stages of skin cancer can be serious. Delaying treatment can cause unwanted complications, and in some cases, death. Fortunately, treatments with high success rates are now available and can help you restore your confidence, balance, and health. Contact Advanced Skin Canser and Dermatology Center in Wolcott, CT to schedule your consultation today. Well be happy to answer all your questions and recommend the best treatment options!
What Are The 5 Stages Of Skin Cancer
Staging is an important tool used to treat skin cancer. Your stage helps the medical team determine where the tumor is, how large it is, where it has spread, your prognosis, and the most effective treatment plan.
The five stages of squamous cell carcinoma include:
- Stage 0: Also known as carcinoma in situ, in this stage cancer is present in the epidermis. It has not spread to deeper layers.
- Stage 1: The tumor is smaller than 2 centimeters and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. The individual has one or fewer risk factors for spread.
- Stage 2: The tumor is wider than 2 centimeters and has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. This stage also applies to any sized tumor when the individual has two or more risk factors.
- Stage 3: The tumor has spread into nearby facial bones or one lymph node. It has not spread to other organs.
- Stage 4: The tumor is of any size and has metastasized to one or more of the lymph nodes. It may have spread to the bones and other distant organs.
How Is Skin Cancer Treated
Treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer. Some types of treatment include the following:
- Mohs micrographic surgery uses a scalpel to remove the tumor and thin layer of surrounding tissue.
- Excisional surgery involves a surgeon removing the tumor and some predetermined amount of surrounding healthy skin to be sure all cancer has been removed.
- Electrosurgery uses heat to burn the tumor and some surrounding area.
- Cryosurgery involves freezing the tumor and may require multiple treatments.
Radiation therapy or topical therapy can be used for cancers in places that are hard to reach with surgery or for patients who are not able to have surgery.
What Are The Risk Factors For Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Risk factors for squamous cell carcinoma include:
- Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays
- Light-colored hair, skin, or eyes
- History of skin cancer
- The pathologists report
- Recurrence after treatment
Treatment for squamous cell carcinoma usually involves surgery to remove the lesion. The surgical options include:
- Excision: The physician cuts out the tumor with a scalpel, along with a small margin of healthy skin around the tumor.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation: Used in small lesions, the physician scrapes away cancer cells, then cauterizes the skin to prevent bleeding.
- Mohs surgery: The surgeon removes layers of skin and examines them under a microscope to determine if cancer is present. This process continues until no cancer cells are visible.
Rarely, squamous cell carcinoma is treated with chemotherapy , radiation therapy , and immunotherapy when it has metastasized to other areas of the body.
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Basal Cell Carcinoma Staging
Staging is the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. The stage of the disease may affect the treatment plan.
The stage is based on the size of the tumor, how deeply into the skin it has grown, and whether cancer has spread beyond the tumor to the lymph nodes. Your doctor will look at the results of the biopsy to determine the stage. In rare cases, your doctor may recommend imaging such as CT or PET-CT scan to see if the cancer has spread beyond the skin
Stages are numbered in Roman numerals between 0 and IV.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers are Stage 0 or Stage 1. Stage 3 and 4 are relatively rare. Based on the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, your overall health, and other factors, your doctor works with you to develop a treatment plan.
High risk features for primary tumor staging
- Depth/invasion: > 2 mm thickness , Clark level IV, Perineural invasion
- Anatomic: Primary site ear
- Location: Primary site hair-bearing lip
- Differentiation: Poorly differentiated or undifferentiated
Staging For Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma usually do not spread to other parts of the body. On rare occasions, a persons lymph node may be removed to find out if the cancer has spread, which is called metastasis. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped organs that help fight infection. The doctor may recommend other tests to determine the extent of the disease, including blood tests, chest x-rays, and imaging scans of the lymph nodes and nerves, liver, bones, and brain, but this is uncommon.
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Basal Cell Carcinoma Early Stages
Basal cells are found within the skin and are responsible for producing new skin cells as old ones degenerate. Basal cell carcinoma starts with the appearance of slightly transparent bumps, but they may also show through other symptoms.
In the beginning, a basal cell carcinoma resembles a small bump, similar to a flesh-colored mole or a pimple. The abnormal growths can also look dark, shiny pink, or scaly red in some cases.
Basal 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 basal 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 given a stage. For basal cell carcinoma staging, the factors are grouped and labeled 0 to 4. The characteristics and stages of basal cell carcinoma 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 basal 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 basal 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 basal cell carcinoma: The cancer has spread into facial bones or 1 nearby lymph node, but not to other organs.
Stage 4 basal 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.
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How Is Stage 4 Melanoma Determined By Ajcc
Stage 4 Melanoma. About Staging: Melanoma staging is based on the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system. The system assigns a stage based on tumor-node-metastasis scores as well as additional prognostic factors. The goal is that melanomas of the same stage will have similar characteristics, treatment options, and outcomes.
From The Harvard Health Letter May 2006
Summers the season for fun in the sunbut also for skin cancer. Of the three main types of skin cancer, melanoma is most deadly, and basal cell, most common. Squamous cell cancer falls in between. Its three times as common as melanoma . Though not as common as basal cell , squamous cell is more serious because it is likely to spread . Treated early, the cure rate is over 90%, but metastases occur in 1%5% of cases. After it has metastasized, its very difficult to treat.
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Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancer Stages
After someone is diagnosed with cancer, doctors will try to figure out if it has spread, and if so, how far. This process is called staging. The stage of a cancer describes how much cancer is in the body. It helps determine how serious the cancer is and how best to treat it.
The stage is based on the results of the physical exam, the skin biopsy , and the results of imaging tests if they are done. These exams and tests are described in Tests for Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers.
Determining the stage of basal cell skin cancers is rarely needed, because these cancers are almost always cured before they spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell skin cancers are more likely to spread , so determining the stage can be more important, particularly in people who are at higher risk. This includes people with weakened immune systems, such as those who have had organ transplants and people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Most squamous cell skin cancers occur in the head and neck region and tend to have a higher risk of recurring or spreading compared to those in other locations.
Diagnosis And Staging What It Means For You
How is melanoma diagnosed?
To diagnose melanoma, a dermatologist biopsies the suspicious tissue and sends it to a lab, where a dermatopathologist determines whether cancer cells are present.
After the disease is diagnosed and the type of melanoma is identified, the next step is for your medical team to identify the stage of the disease. This may require additional tests including imaging such as PET scans, CT scans, MRIs and blood tests.
The stage of melanoma is determined by several factors, including how much the cancer has grown, whether the disease has spread and other considerations. Melanoma staging is complex, but crucial. Knowing the stage helps doctors decide how to best treat your disease and predict your chances of recovery.
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Basal Cell Carcinoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin And Actinic Keratosis Often Appear As A Change In The Skin
Not all changes in the skin are a sign of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or actinic keratosis. Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin.
Signs of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin include the following:
- A sore that does not heal.
- Areas of the skin that are:
- Raised, smooth, shiny, and look pearly.
- Firm and look like a scar, and may be white, yellow, or waxy.
- Raised and red or reddish-brown.
- Scaly, bleeding, or crusty.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin occur most often in areas of the skin exposed to the sun, such as the nose, ears, lower lip, or top of the hands.
Signs of actinic keratosis include the following:
- A rough, red, pink, or brown, scaly patch on the skin that may be flat or raised.
- Cracking or peeling of the lower lip that is not helped by lip balm or petroleum jelly.
Actinic keratosis occurs most commonly on the face or the top of the hands.
What It Looks Like
Squamous cell cancer involves the runaway growth of keratinocytes, cells in the outermost layer of skin, which produce the protein keratin. Squamous means scaly in 60%80% of cases, the lesions emerge on or near scaly patches called actinic keratoses that develop from sun-damaged skin.
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Tracking Changes To Your Skin With An App
Some people find it helpful to photograph areas of their skin such as the back or individual lesions to be able to better spot any future changes.
Over the past years, smartphone apps that can help consumers track moles and skin lesions for changes over time have become very popular and can be a very helpful tool for at-home skin checks.
This page does not replace a medical opinion and is for informational purposes only.
Please note, that some skin cancers may look different from these examples. See your doctor if you have any concerns about your skin.
It might also be a good idea to visit your doctor and have an open talk about your risk of skin cancer and seek for an advice on the early identification of skin changes.
* Prof. Bunker donates his fee for this review to the British Skin Foundation , a charity dedicated to fund research to help people with skin disease and skin cancer.
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Different Types Of Cancer Start In The Skin
Skin cancer may form in basal cells or squamous cells. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer. They are also called nonmelanoma skin cancer. Actinic keratosis is a skin condition that sometimes becomes squamous cell carcinoma.
This summary is about basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, and actinic keratosis. See the following PDQ summaries for information on melanoma and other kinds of cancer that affect the skin:
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The Stages Of Skin Cancer
Knowing the stage of your cancer is important for anyone with skin cancer. The stage is a number that tells how advanced your cancer is. Stages go from 0 to 4 you also may see these as 0 and Roman numerals I to IV. What determines the stage varies with the type of skin cancer you have.
But for all types, you and your doctor can start to choose the best treatment once you know the stage.
Stage I And Stage Ii Melanoma
Stage I and stage II melanoma describe invasive cancer that has grown below the epidermis to the next layer of skin, the dermis. It has not reached the lymph nodes.
Two major factors help determine the seriousness of stage I melanoma and stage II melanoma: Breslow depth and ulceration.
Breslow depth is a measurement that doctors use to describe the depth of an invasive melanoma in millimeters. It measures how far melanoma cells have reached below the surface of the skin. The thinner the melanoma, the better the chances for a cure.
Ulceration means that there is broken skin covering the melanoma. This breakage can be so small that it can only be seen under a microscope. Ulceration is an important factor in staging. A melanoma with ulceration may require more aggressive treatment than a melanoma of the same size without ulceration.
Melanoma is considered stage 1A when:
- the tumor is less than or equal to 1 millimeter thick in Breslow depth
Melanoma is considered stage IB when:
- the tumor is 1.1 to 2 millimeters thick in Breslow depth without ulceration
Melanoma is considered stage IIA when:
- the tumor is 1.1 to 2 millimeters thick in Breslow depth with ulceration
- the tumor is 2.1 to 4 millimeters thick in Breslow depth without ulceration
Melanoma is considered stage IIB when:
- the tumor is 2.1 to 4 millimeters thick in Breslow depth with ulceration
- the tumor is more than 4 millimeters in Breslow depth without ulceration
Melanoma is considered stage IIC when:
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Stages And Treatment For Squamous And Basal Cell Skin Cancers
Squamous cell and basal cell skins cancers are nonmelanoma cancers. This is what determines each stage for these cancers:
- Stage 0. is only in the outermost layer of skin.
Stage 1. Cancer is not larger than 2 centimeters . It has no or only one high-risk feature. High-risk features include being thicker than 2 millimeters , growing down below the outer level of skin, growing into tiny nerves, growing on the ear or lip, and looking abnormal under a microscope.
- Stage 2. Cancer is larger than 2 centimeters, or any size if it has two or more high-risk features.
Stage 3. Cancer has spread to the bones of the face, or has spread to a close lymph node that is smaller than 3 centimeters.
- Stage 4. Cancer has spread to bones outside the face or to distant parts of the body.
Nonmelanoma cancers have a high survival rate. Treatment is usually successful for stages 1 through 3. Treatments for these stages are called local therapy. Options include:
- Surgery to remove the cancer including laser surgery
- Microscopic surgical removal
- X-ray treatments
- Scraping and burning with an electric needle
Medications applied to the skin including the use of strong light to activate the treatment
Cancer drugs and new treatments being tested in clinical trials may be used for nonmelanoma cancers that are stage 4 and those than cannot be treated with local therapy. Stage 4 cancers are harder to treat. Treatment may not be successful.