Skin Cancer By: CaysieWiddison
What is skin cancer? • Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. If left unchecked, these cancer cells can spread from the skin into other tissues and organs.
Basal Cell Carcinoma • Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing form of skin cancer.
Melanoma • Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma begins in a type of skin cell called a melanocyte. Melanocytes produce the skin pigment known as melanin, which is responsible for our natural skin color. When exposed to sunlight, these skin cells produce large amounts of melanin as part of the tanning process, helping to protect the skin from burning.
Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma • Basal cell carcinoma may look only slightly different than normal skin. The cancer may appear as skin bump or growth that is: -Pearly or waxy -White or light pink -Flesh-colored or brown • In some cases the skin may be just slightly raised or even flat. You may have: -A skin sore that bleeds easily -A sore that does not heal -Oozing or crusting spots in a sore -Appearance of a scar-like sore without having injured the area -Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot -A sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle
Symptoms of Melanoma • Melanomas can develop anywhere on your body, but most often develop in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms and face. Melanoma can occur in areas that don't receive much sun exposure, such as the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and on fingernail beds. • The first melanoma symptoms often are: -A change in an existing mole, or -The development of a new, unusual-looking growth on your skin -But melanoma can also occur on otherwise normal-appearing skin.
Treatment for Skin Cancer • Treatment for skin cancer and the precancerous skin lesions known as actinic keratoses varies, depending on the size, type, depth and location of the lesions. Often the abnormal cells are surgically removed or destroyed with topical medications. Most skin cancer treatments require only a local anesthetic and can be done in an outpatient setting. Sometimes no treatment is necessary beyond an initial biopsy that removes the entire growth.
Treatment Continued: If additional treatment is needed, options may include: • Freezing. • Excisional surgery. This type of treatment may be appropriate for any type of skin cancer. Your doctor cuts out (excises) the cancerous tissue and a surrounding margin of healthy skin. A wide excision — removing extra normal skin around the tumor — may be recommended in some cases. To minimize or avoid scarring, especially on your face, you may need to consult a doctor skilled in skin reconstruction. • Laser therapy. A precise, intense beam of light vaporizes growths, generally with little damage to surrounding tissue and with minimal bleeding, swelling and scarring. A doctor may use this therapy to treat superficial skin cancers or precancerous growths on lips. • Mohs surgery. • Curettage and electrodesiccation. After removing most of a growth, your doctor scrapes away layers of cancer cells using a circular blade (curet). An electric needle destroys any remaining cancer cells. This simple, quick procedure is common in treating small or thin basal cell cancers. It leaves a small, flat, white scar. • Radiation therapy. • Chemotherapy.
Prevention • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Because the sun's rays are strongest during this period, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day, even in winter or when the sky is cloudy. You absorb UV radiation year-round, and clouds offer little protection from damaging rays. Remember, sunburns and suntans cause skin damage that can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Sun exposure accumulated over time also may cause skin cancer.
Prevention • Wear sunscreen year-round. Sunscreens don't filter out all harmful UV radiation, especially the radiation that can lead to melanoma. But they play a major role in an overall sun protection program. Sunscreens that contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and mexoryl do a better job at blocking UVA rays. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Use a generous amount of sunscreen on all exposed skin, including your lips, the tips of your ears, and the backs of your hands and neck.
Prevention • Wear protective clothing. • Avoid tanning beds and tan-accelerating agents. • Be aware of sun-sensitizing medications. • Check your skin regularly and report changes to your doctor. • Have regular skin exams.