FACTS ABOUT SKIN CANCER
The skin is our body’s largest organ and it’s vital in protecting our vulnerable internal organs from damage. However, our skin has a high risk
of developing skin cancer, since it is the most exposed part of our body, leaving it susceptible to things like harmful ultraviolet rays. Skin
cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with new skin cancer cases outnumbering the combined total new cases of lung,
colon, prostate, and breast cancer.
By continuing to spread awareness of signs and symptoms of skin cancer, it can be caught early, treated, and in some cases even cured. It is recommended that you schedule regular cancer screenings with your doctor to check for signs of skin cancer, and conduct skin cancer self exams at home.
Learn more about the treatments available for skin cancer, their benefits, the possible side effects from treatment, and more by checking out the information below, or by clicking the links below to navigate to specific sections.
Learn more about Skin Cancer:
- Types Of Skin Cancer
- Signs and Symptoms
- Treating Skin Cancer
- Understanding Radiation Therapy
- Skin Cancer Resources
Types Of Skin Cancer
There are four main types of skin cancer that differ in terms of the symptoms and severity. However, all forms of skin cancer are dangerous if the patient does not seek professional treatment and allows the cancer to progress. The four types of skin cancer include: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and merkel cell carcinoma.
The most severe form is melanoma, as it has the potential to spread quickly throughout the body if not caught early. However, approximately 90% of skin cancer cases that are diagnosed each year are basal cell carcinoma, making it the most common form of skin cancer. It has a much slower growth rate and is unlikely to spread to other areas in the body. No matter what, it’s important to visit a medical professional if you display any signs and symptoms, which we’ve outlined below.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s important for women and men to perform skin cancer self-exams often to check for any early signs and symptoms. Each form of cancer has different early indicators, which include the following:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma - a common sign for this type of skin cancer is a pale looking patch of skin, or a smooth, clear bump on the skin. The patch may start to bleed if irritated, or become dry and flaky as the cancer progresses.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma - a rough bump on the skin or a dry, scaly patch of skin are common signs of this type of skin cancer. As the cancer progresses, the bump or rash typically increases in size.
- Melanoma - signs of Melanoma usually involve moles, blemishes, freckles, and other markings on the skin. If any of these markings change in color, shape, or size, it could be an early sign of cancer.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma - this skin cancer typically appears as a bluish-red spot that is slightly raised on your face, neck, or head. If the bump is cancerous, it typically grows at a very rapid pace.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms while conducting a home skin cancer self exam, or if you have any other concerns, schedule an appointment with your local cancer treatment center to be examined by a doctor.
HOW SKIN CANCER CAN BE TREATED
There are different types of skin cancer treatment available, which can reduce the cancer symptoms and even cure it in some cases. Catching the cancer early and receiving treatment increases the chances of the cancer being cured.
The type of treatment that is best for the patient depends on a variety of factors. The doctor will take into consideration the stage of cancer, the type of skin cancer, and the patient’s overall health when determining the best course of treatment. A combination of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, biologic therapy and more may be used to treat skin cancer.
Radiation TherapY FOR SKIN CANCER
Radiation therapy is commonly used to treat different types of skin cancer. This treatment method utilizes doses of radiation that are targeted at the cancer cells, damaging them and preventing them from multiplying. Cancerous cells cannot repair themselves, so they eventually die off due to the radiation, while healthy cells can regenerate over time. A radiation oncologist will use a machine to deliver targeted beams of radiation from an external machine, called External Beam Radiation Therapy. The dosage and frequency of the treatment varies on a case to case basis.
Brachytherapy is a different approach to radiation therapy that does not use an external radiation beam to deliver treatment. Instead, a small series of tubes are surgically inserted into the body and positioned next to the tumor. The radiation oncologist will put small beads into the tubes that emit radiation. The radiation is applied more directly to the tumor, effectively killing cancer cells. Brachytherapy will be used if the doctor determines that it is the best treatment option for the patient.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL JUNEAU RADIATION ONCOLOGY CENTER
Any questions about the types of skin cancer, available treatments, or radiation therapy can be directed to the cancer treatment team here at Southeast Radiation Oncology Center in Juneau, AK. We offer professional radiation therapy for those battling skin cancer, and other forms of skin cancer, so they can begin the process of healing. Our team is there for you and your family, every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, or if you have any additional questions.
SKIN CANCER RESOURCES
Melanoma International Foundation
Melanoma Research Foundation
Skin Cancer Foundation
Also see Helpful Links
*Content provided by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, www.rtanswers.org, and the American Cancer Society.