The relationship between dermatology and cancer

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scaredEarly detection of skin cancer involves being proactive with treatment when signs and symptoms are exhibited Skin cancer is often seen in the form of irregular flat or raised moles, abnormal skin tags, or unusually dry skin patches. Such indicators are examined closer with a dermascope by a skin doctor, and always include a biopsy. If a biopsy confirms that a patient has skin cancer, the dermatologist will have to consider a treatment plan that includes the following factors:

  • Cancer type
  • Location of skin cancer on the body
  • Stage of malignancy
  • Depth and margin of cancer cells
  • Medical history
  • Occupation
  • Exposure to the sun, tanning beds or sun lamps
  • Exposure to toxins and chemicals
  • Region
  • Lifestyle habits
  • Skin, hair, and eye color
  • Number of moles on the patient’s body

With any type of skin cancer the goal is the same―effectively removing all of the skin affected by skin cancer through several treatment techniques.

Excision: the skin is numbed and a tool is used to scoop out the skin cancer and a small piece of healthy-looking skin. This is a simple procedure that usually is performed right inside the dermatology office.

surgerMohs surgery: this is an extremely effective method of treatment where several layers of the skin are meticulously separated and examined under a microscope to ensure cancer tissue has been removed.

Curettage and electrodesiccation: the dermatologist may decide to treat small basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer with single or with combined steps: a sharp, spoon-like instrument called a curette, could effectively remove the skin cancer alone, but sometimes an electric needle may also be used to destroy any possible remaining cancer cells that may have been missed.

Alternative treatments for skin cancer involve building a person’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, cryosurgery, chemical, radiation, or photodynamic therapy.

  • Ways to avoid skin cancer include:
  • Wearing effective sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and lip balm daily
  • Wearing darker clothes that cover body areas exposed to the sun
  • Wearing UV protected sunglasses
  • Limiting your time spent outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
  • Examining your skin.
  • Getting cancer screenings regularly

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