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Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the cells, and tissues of the skin. It occurs when abnormal cells in the skin grow uncontrollably and can spread to other parts of the body. The most common causes of skin cancer are exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Symptoms of skin cancer may include changes in the size, shape, or color of a mole or other skin lesion, and the appearance of new growths. 


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About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It results from uncontrollably developing skin cells. By examining the cells, doctors can also identify the sort of skin cancer. Areas of skin exposed to the sun, such as the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands, as well as the legs in women, are the main sites where skin cancer occurs. All skin tones are affected, including those with darker complexions. People with dark skin tones are more prone to develop melanoma on parts of their bodies like the palms of their hands and the soles of their feet that are not often exposed to the sun.

Types Of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer comprises several types, each with distinct characteristics and potential risks. The three primary types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 80% of all cases. BCC usually appears as a small, pearly bump or a reddish, scaly patch, often on sun-exposed areas such as the face, neck, or hands. Treatment options include surgical excision, cryotherapy, laser therapy, and topical creams.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, accounting for around 15% of cases. SCC often presents as a firm, red nodule or a rough, scaly patch that may bleed or develop into an open sore. Treatment includes surgical removal, radiation therapy, or, in some cases, chemotherapy.

Melanoma: Melanoma is the most dangerous and potentially deadly form of skin cancer, accounting for a smaller percentage of cases but a disproportionate number of skin cancer-related deaths. It originates in melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin. Treatment typically involves surgical excision, and in advanced cases, it may include lymph node removal, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy.

 Causes Of Skin Cancer: Errors (mutations) in the skin cells' DNA cause skin cancer. The cells develop uncontrollably as a result of the mutations, resulting in a mass of cancerous cells. Overexposure to sunlight, especially when blistering and sunburned, is the primary cause of skin cancer. UV radiation from the sun oxidizes DNA in your skin, leading to the formation of aberrant cells. These aberrant cells divide erratically and quickly, resulting in a mass of cancerous cells.

 The stages of cancer indicate the extent of cancer in your body. Skin cancer can be diagnosed at any point between stage 0 and stage IV. The greater the number, the more widespread the cancer has become and the more challenging it is to treat. However, the staging for melanoma is different from non-melanoma skin cancers that start in your basal or squamous cells. Treatment depends on the stage of cancer. Sometimes, a biopsy alone can remove all the cancer tissue if it’s small and limited to the surface of your skin.

Procedure of Skin Cancer

The treatment of skin cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the patient's overall health, and other individual factors. The treatment options for skin cancer include:

The procedure for treating skin cancer varies depending on the type, size, location, and stage of the cancer. There are several treatment options available, and the choice of treatment is determined by a healthcare professional, typically a dermatologist or an oncologist. Common methods for treating skin cancer include:

  • Surgical Excision:

    • This is one of the most common methods for treating skin cancer, particularly for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
    • The surgeon removes the cancerous tissue, as well as a margin of healthy tissue surrounding it to ensure complete removal.
    • The excised tissue is sent to a laboratory for examination to confirm that no cancer cells remain.
    • This procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and local anesthesia is used.
  • Mohs Surgery:

    • Mohs micrographic surgery is a precise technique often used for BCC, SCC, and some cases of melanoma, especially when the cancer is large or located in critical areas like the face.
    • The surgeon removes the cancerous tissue layer by layer, examining each layer under a microscope in real-time. This process continues until no cancer cells are detected.
    • Mohs surgery preserves as much healthy tissue as possible and is highly effective in eliminating cancer.
  • Electrodesiccation and Curettage (EDC):

    • EDC is primarily used for small, non-melanoma skin cancers.
    • The cancerous tissue is scraped away with a curette, and then an electric current is applied to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
    • The process is typically repeated a few times during the same appointment.
  • Cryotherapy:

    • Cryotherapy involves freezing the cancerous tissue with liquid nitrogen, causing it to peel away as it thaws.
    • It is commonly used for pre-cancerous lesions, such as actinic keratoses, and for very early-stage skin cancers.
  • Radiation Therapy:

    • Radiation therapy may be employed for skin cancer in areas where surgery is not feasible or for patients who are not good candidates for surgery.
    • It can be used as a primary treatment or after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells.
    • Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy:

      • Chemotherapy is rarely used for skin cancer, as it is not typically effective for non-melanoma skin cancers like BCC and SCC.
      • However, it may be considered for advanced or metastatic melanoma.

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