Can You Die From Skin Cancer If Youre Diagnosed With Merkel Cell Carcinoma
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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Surgery For Skin Cancer
Small skin cancer lesions may be removed through a variety of techniques, including simple excision , electrodesiccation and curettage , and cryosurgery .
Larger tumors, lesions in high-risk locations, recurrent tumors, and lesions in cosmetically sensitive areas are removed by a technique called Mohs micrographic surgery. For this technique, the surgeon carefully removes tissue, layer by layer, until cancer-free tissue is reached.
Malignant melanoma is treated more aggressively than just surgical removal. To ensure the complete removal of this dangerous malignancy, 1-2 cm of normal-appearing skin surrounding the tumor is also removed. Depending on the thickness of the melanoma, neighboring lymph nodes may also be removed and tested for cancer. The sentinel lymph node biopsy method uses a mildly radioactive substance to identify which lymph nodes are most likely to be affected.
What Are Complications Of Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic keratoses can be bothersome and many people may consider them unsightly. In extreme cases, this may cause depression or decreased socialization. Growths may itch and may rub or catch on clothing, becoming inflamed. Excessive rubbing or scratching may cause lesions to bleed, which can result in infection.
Seborrheic keratoses themselves are harmless , but secondary tumors from skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma or malignant melanoma may sometimes occur within a seborrheic keratosis lesion. Tell your doctor if you notice any new growths on your skin or any changes in existing growths.
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Damage To The Muscles Nerves And Bones
If melanoma goes untreated long enough, there are instances where the it may grow deeply enough to affect muscle, says Lucas. As far as it goes down, we have to remove it if it involves the muscle, it has to go. Sometimes skin cancers can go so deep they can even go into bone.
The temporal branch allows you to raise your eyebrows, says Lucas. The surgeon may have to take some of those nerves to remove the cancer. In that situation, the patient may not be able to raise their eyebrow after the surgery, and that can be a permanent change, she says.
How To Treat A Bleeding Mole
If you have a mole thats bleeding because of a scratch or bump, apply a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to sterilize the area and help stop the bleeding. You may also want to apply a bandage to cover the area. Make sure to avoid getting adhesive on the area of skin where your mole is.
Most moles dont require treatment, but moles that continue bleeding need to be examined by a dermatologist. They can determine whats going on and if youll need to have the mole biopsied.
Your dermatologist might recommend to remove the mole in an outpatient procedure at their office. There are two common ways they can do this:
- surgical excision, when the mole is cut off the skin with a scalpel
- shave excision, when the mole is shaved off the skin with a sharp razor
After the mole is removed, itll be analyzed to detect if any cancer cells are present.
Once a mole is removed, it usually doesnt come back. If the mole does grow back, speak to your healthcare provider immediately.
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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.
Can You Die From Skin Cancer If Youre Diagnosed With Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It is classified as a non-melanoma form of the condition, and accounts for about 75 percent of all skin cancer cases. It almost never spreads beyond the original tumor site, but can do serious damage there if not treated. Mohs surgery is considered the most effective treatment technique.
Limiting sun exposure is the single most important measure for prevention of any kind of skin cancer, including BCC. The risk when outside can further by reduced by using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to 50, wearing pants, long skirts, long-sleeved shirts, and wide-brimmed hats that provide adequate protection.
Wound Infection After Surgery
There is a risk of infection after skin cancer surgery, says Lucas. While in the office or the hospital we do everything as clean and infection-free as possible, but youre leaving the office with a fresh wound. It needs to be kept clean and protected and you need to be careful, she says.
Most surgical wound infections happen within 30 days of after surgery. There may be pus draining from the wound which can be red, painful, and hot to the touch.
A staph infection is probably the most common infection. Staph is found on all our skin some people carry this in their noses and in other areas, says Lucas.
There are risk factors that increase a persons chance of developing a surgical wound infection, including poorly controlled diabetes, an immune disorder, being overweight or obese, smoking, steroid use, or if the surgery lasted more than two hours.
There are ways to reduce the risk of infection after surgery, according to Lucas:
- Wash hands thoroughly before performing twice-a-day wound care.
- Avoid performing wound care in the bathroom if possible lots of bacteria can live in there.
- After cleaning the wound, keep it lubricated with something like Vaseline to keep the stich line moist.
- Be cautious when out and about and dont engage in strenuous activity.
Am I At Risk Of Skin Cancer
Everyone is at some risk of developing skin cancer. Your risk increases as you grow older. Most skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to the suns ultraviolet radiation.
Your risk of skin cancer increases if you:
- have someone in your family who has had skin cancer
- have had bad sunburn before
- have fair skin
- have many moles on your skin
- spend a lot of time outdoors without sun protection or work outdoors
- have used solariums or sun lamps
- have a compromised immune system or are taking immunosuppression medication
You can also use this online calculator to work out your likely risk of melanoma.
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Questions To Ask The Doctor
- How far has the melanoma spread under my skin?
- Has it spread anywhere else?
- What treatment do you think is best for me?
- Whats the goal of this treatment? Do you think it could cure the cancer?
- Will treatment include surgery? If so, who will do the surgery?
- What will the surgery be like?
- Will I need other types of treatment, too?
- Whats the goal of these treatments?
- What side effects could I have from these treatments?
- What can I do about side effects that I might have?
- Is there a clinical trial that might be right for me?
- What about special vitamins or diets that friends tell me about? How will I know if they are safe?
- How soon do I need to start treatment?
- What should I do to be ready for treatment?
- Is there anything I can do to help the treatment work better?
- Whats the next step?
You Can Find Skin Cancer On Your Body
The best way to find skin cancer is to examine yourself. When checking, you want to look at the spots on your skin. And you want to check everywhere from your scalp to the spaces between your toes and the bottoms of your feet.
If possible, having a partner can be helpful. Your partner can examine hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back.
Getting in the habit of checking your skin will help you notice changes. Checking monthly can be beneficial. If you have had skin cancer, your dermatologist can tell you how often you should check your skin.
People of all ages get skin cancer
Checking your skin can help you find skin cancer early when its highly treatable.
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What Are The Health Risks Of Skin Cancer
What Are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer? A lighter natural skin color. Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun. Blue or green eyes. Blond or red hair. Certain types and a large number of moles. A family history of skin cancer. A personal history of skin cancer. Older age.
Early Indicators Of Skin Cancer
You may play a significant part in saving your life by inspecting your skin every month for anomalies that could be indicators of early cancer and reporting them to your doctor.
Some typical changes that you can notice are:
- Any uncommon spot on your skin
- Sores that dont heal
- Redness or new edema around a mole
- Color that extends from a spots edge into the skin around it
- Recurrent itching, soreness, or tenderness in a specific region
- Oozing or bleeding mole
- A lump or bump on the moles surface
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How Can I Find Skin Cancer Early
- Talk with your doctor if you see any changes on your skin that do not go away within one month.
- Check the skin on all surfaces of your body, even in your mouth.
- Watch for a new mole or other new growth on your skin.
- Check for changes in the appearance of an old growth on the skin or scar .
- Watch for a patch of skin that is a different color and becomes darker or changes color.
- Watch for a sore that does not heal it may bleed or form a crust.
- Check your nails for a dark band. Check with your doctor if you see changes, such as if the dark band begins to spread.
When skin cancer is found early, it can be treated more easily.
Types Of Skin Malignancies:
- Melanoma the least common form of skin cancer, but responsible for more deaths per year than squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers combined. Melanoma is also more likely to spread and may be harder to control.
- Nonmelanoma malignancies:
These skin malignancies are typically caused by ultraviolet radiation from exposure to the sun and tanning beds.
What Can Skin Cancer Lead To
People who develop abnormally frequent cases of a skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma appear to be at significantly increased risk for developing of other cancers, including blood, breast, colon and prostate cancers, according to a preliminary study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Causes Of Skin Cancer
Both types of skin cancer occur when mutations develop in the DNA of your skin cells. These mutations cause skin cells to grow uncontrollably and form a mass of cancer cells.
Basal cell skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds. UV rays can damage the DNA inside your skin cells, causing the unusual cell growth. Squamous cell skin cancer is also caused by UV exposure.
Squamous cell skin cancer can also develop after long-term exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. It can develop within a burn scar or ulcer, and may also be caused by some types of human papillomavirus .
The cause of melanoma is unclear. Most moles dont turn into melanomas, and researchers arent sure why some do. Like basal and squamous cell skin cancers, melanoma can be caused by UV rays. But melanomas can develop in parts of your body that arent typically exposed to sunlight.
Your recommended treatment plan will depend on different factors, like the size, location, type, and stage of your skin cancer. After considering these factors, your healthcare team may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
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Keep Notes And Records
Before you see an oncologist we suggest you purchase a special notebook and folder where you can take notes and keep your paperwork together regarding your skin cancer diagnosis. You should start this notebook as soon as you are diagnosed to jot down questions, dates, testing and medication regimens, and how you are feeling. Its also a good idea to bring someone with you to the appointment for support and to help you recall the conversation later.
What Are Some Of The Lesser
Some of the less common skin cancers include the following:
Kaposi sarcoma is a rare cancer most commonly seen in people who have weakened immune systems, those who have human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS and people who are taking immunosuppressant medications who have undergone organ or bone marrow transplant.
Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma are:
- Blue, black, pink, red or purple flat or bumpy blotches or patches on your arms, legs and face. Lesions might also appear in your mouth, nose and throat.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that begins at the base of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. This cancer starts in Merkel cells, which share of the features of nerve cells and hormone-making cells and are very close to the nerve ending in your skin. Merkel cell cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than squamous or basal cell skin cancer.
Signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are:
- A small reddish or purplish bump or lump on sun-exposed areas of skin.
- Lumps are fast-growing and sometimes open up as ulcers or sores.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma
Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer that usually appears on your eyelid. This cancer tends to develop around your eyes because theres a large number of sebaceous glands in that area.
Signs and symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma are:
- A painless, round, firm, bump or lump on or slightly inside your upper or lower eyelid.
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Visit Us Dermatology Partners
Whether youre worried a spot youve noticed is cancerous or youre just ready for your annual professional skin exam, the U.S. Dermatology Partners team would love to hear from you. You can get started scheduling your visit by completing our online request form. Once we receive your scheduling request, one of our local team members will be in touch to finalize the details of your office visit.
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Knowledge Is Your Best Defense
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. These mutations lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma , squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma .
The two main causes of skin cancer are the suns harmful ultraviolet rays and the use of UV tanning beds. The good news is that if skin cancer is caught early, your dermatologist can treat it with little or no scarring and high odds of eliminating it entirely. Often, the doctor may even detect the growth at a precancerous stage, before it has become a full-blown skin cancer or penetrated below the surface of the skin.
Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
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