Tuesday, June 20

Fighting the most common skin cancers

As summer approaches, skin cancer risk is increased by sun exposure. On a sunny day, walking outside is similar to engaging in combat. You'll need armour (sunscreen or sunblock and sun-protective clothes), a tactical plan (avoiding peak sun hours), and a haven (the shade) if you want to protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation, especially during the summer when UV strength is at its highest.

Of course, exposure to sunlight is necessary for the production of vitamin D, the maintenance of healthy bones, the regulation of mood, and the prevention of illness. Unprotected UV exposure, however, can result in skin cancer. Skin cancers that are not melanoma are the most prevalent of them.

Simply defined, melanomas—the aggressive skin cancers that represent barely 1% of all instances but are responsible for the majority of skin cancer fatalities in the United States—are not non-melanoma skin cancers.

Rarely do non-melanoma skin tumours become extremely aggressive. Instead, the most prevalent forms are slow-growing and impact millions of individuals annually. Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are the two types that can arise from basal cells.

These cancers typically do not metastasize to other organs and are not life-threatening. However, they can be highly harmful. Small skin malignancies can cause bleeding, discomfort, and skin deterioration. They can erode through vital structures like your nose, eyes, bones, or muscles if left untreated. If they grow very large, they may spread and, in rare instances, result in death.

Non-melanoma skin cancers can appear anywhere on the body, although they often appear on the head, face, neck, ears, lips, arms, legs, or hands because of sun exposure.

The malignancies may have recognisable features or appear as flat spots that barely differ from healthy skin. SCCs can appear as wart-like lumps, crusty sores, or scaly areas. BCCs frequently feature a sunken centre, elevated margins, and noticeable blood vessels. They can also resemble a pale scar, an unhealing sore, a reddish patch, or a lump that may be red, blue, brown, or black in colour.

Melanomas typically feature irregularly coloured brown, black, or blue pigment, jagged edges, and an asymmetrical shape. They could be bumpy or flat. Many people have tiny brown, black, or blue spots on their skin (lentigos), but they are uniform in colour, have smooth borders, and are symmetrical in form. Pigmented spots that start to alter in colour or shape should be examined since lentigias can develop into melanomas.

When BCCs and SCCs are discovered early, they are easy to treat (by you or your doctor).

Your doctor will use strong magnification to examine a new or changing skin growth in order to diagnose it. Your doctor might perform a biopsy (tissue sample removal) if the location seems suspicious and send the sample to a lab for examination. The cancer will have to be excised if the sample tests positive for BCC or SCC.

Consult your doctor about extra tests if the tumour is large. Ask your doctor about having your lymph nodes checked to make sure the cancer hasn't spread for SCCs that are larger than a quarter."

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is based on the distinctive features and form of the tumour. For instance, a prescription cream may be used to treat an in situ (limited and not spreading) SCC on the cheek.
To keep as much good skin as possible, Mohs micrographic surgery entails eliminating cancer a tiny bit at a time. Each item is promptly examined under a microscope. The procedure is finished after the edges are cancer-free. Invasive skin malignancies on the face, scalp, and neck, as well as on functional areas like the hands, feet, and genitalia, as well as particularly aggressive or massive tumours on the trunk or extremities, are typically candidates for Mohs surgery.
If Mohs surgery is not required, the skin cancer may be removed with surgical instruments, frozen, or radioactively eliminated. The good news is that when SCCs and BCCs are treated early, they can usually be cured.

Create a battle plan.
A disciplined programme of prevention and detection is the finest weapon in the fight against skin cancer. The following actions ought to be included:

Use sunscreen or sunblock with an SPF of 30 to 50. Use a lip-specific sun protection product to shield your lips. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, a hat with a wide brim, sunglasses, shoes, and socks if you can.

Avoid being in the sun. Avoid the sun as much as you can between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and try to find shade whenever you can.

Be watchful for detection. Schedule yearly skin examinations with your doctor and perform your own checks each month at home. Don't forget about your scalp and the backs of your entire body. You can check your back and other difficult-to-see places with the aid of a mirror (or a loved one).

Take initiative. If you notice any new skin growths that seem worrisome, contact your doctor right away.


1 comment

  1. This is such a great post! I went to the doctor once about my skin changes and the doctor was really dismissive. It's put me off going back again.

    Corinne x

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