If you have been told that you have skin cancer you could well be unsure about the treatment you will receive as, even if you have already had your treatment options explained to you in detail by your doctor, you might still be confused by all the technical and medical jargon that was used. You might not have been able to take in the information because of the shock following the diagnosis.
Here therefore is a brief description of a few of the treatments which are commonly used when treating skin cancer.
The specific type of treatment you will receive will depend upon a variety of different factors including such things as your age and whether or not your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.
Your treatment could consist of surgery in which the surgeon could decide to remove the cancerous region itself together with some of the surrounding skin. Precisely how much health skin should be surgically removed will depend on the specific form of cancer found and how deep that cancer is. Usually an area of approximately one or two centimeters of surrounding skin will be removed.
Some forms of skin cancer can be treated by freezing using liquid nitrogen or treated with drugs like Imiquimod which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use on superficial basal cell carcinoma.
More extensive surgery might be necessary where a sentinel lymph node shows cancer cells after a biopsy of any suspect area. This type of surgery removes lymph nodes close to the cancer along with affected skin and is frequently followed by radiotherapy.
Another recent development for skin cancer treatment is what is referred to as immunotherapy cancer vaccination although research into this particular form of treatment is still being conducted and it is not yet widely available. Chemotherapy could also be recommended if your cancer has spread into other areas.
There is no definitive form of prevention for skin cancer but there are various things that you can do to minimize your chance of developing the problem and the most important and often disregarded is to reduce your skin's exposure to the sun.
Everyone, no matter what the color or type of skin you have should use a sunscreen that has a protection factor of at least 15. It is also a good idea to wear sufficient clothing and remain out of the sun as much as you can, particularly between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. By the same token, it is not advisable to use sunlamps and sun beds as these too produce harmful rays.
Finally, keep an eye on your skin and pay particular attention to any alterations to moles and lesions. If you notice any changes then you should see your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be treated while the problem is at an early stage