Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways. There are five main types of cancer treatment. You may receive one, or a combination of treatments, depending on your cancer type. The skin is divided into two main layers - the outer layer epidermis , and a layer underneath dermis.
Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment.
These can divide to form a new tumour. Order or download our free booklet about melanoma. It covers symptoms, diagnosis, treatment with surgery, and practical and emotional issues. Visit be. Waiting to hear the results of tests can be a worrying time. You can talk to us about how you are feeling. Talking to us. If you're deciding which charity to support with your fundraising, talk to us. We want to be there for everyone affected by cancer, and we need your help. Why choose us. What's happening near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you are.
In your area. Read Jen's post about her experience of living with melanoma. It includes some tips on how to stay safe in the sunshine. A support group for anyone affected by melanoma to come together, share experiences, and ask questions. Thanks We rely on a number of sources to gather evidence for our information. We thank all those people who have provided expert review for the information on this page. Our information is also reviewed by people affected by cancer to ensure it is as relevant and accessible as possible.
Thank you to all those people who reviewed what you're reading and have helped our information to develop. Need to talk? The affected skin can sometimes become very thick. Sometimes the patches can look like small horns or spikes. Overexposure to ultraviolet UV light is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. UV light comes from the sun, as well as from artificial tanning sunbeds and sunlamps.
UVC is filtered out by the Earth's atmosphere. Repeated exposure causing sunburn is the most damaging. But frequent non burning exposures also increase the risk of skin cancer. Exposure by the sun or artificial sources of light, will make your skin more vulnerable to non-melanoma skin cancer. In most cases, non-melanoma skin cancer doesn't run in families. But research has shown that some families have a higher than average number of members who develop the condition. For example, if you have a parent who's had squamous cell carcinoma, your risk of also getting it is 2 to 3 times higher than average.
The Irish Cancer Society website has more information about skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancer isn't always preventable.
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But you can reduce your chances of developing it by avoiding overexposure to UV light. Checking your skin for signs of skin cancer can help lead to an early diagnosis. This can increase your chances of successful treatment.
Your GP can examine your skin for signs of skin cancer. They may refer you to a skin specialist dermatologist or a specialist plastic surgeon if they're unsure or suspect skin cancer. The specialist will examine your skin and may carry out a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer. A biopsy is a procedure where some of the affected skin is removed so it can be studied under a microscope. If your GP suspects skin cancer they may refer you to a skin specialist dermatologist. The specialist should be able to confirm the diagnosis by carrying out a physical examination.
But they'll probably also perform a biopsy. This is a minor surgical procedure where a part or all of the tumour is removed and studied under a microscope. This is usually carried out under a local anaesthetic. This means you'll be conscious but the affected area will be numbed, so you won't feel any pain. A biopsy lets the dermatologist find out the type of skin cancer you have and if there's any chance of it spreading to other parts of your body.
Skin cancer can sometimes be diagnosed and treated at the same time. The tumour can be removed and tested. You may not need further treatment because the cancer is unlikely to spread. If you have basal cell carcinoma, further tests aren't usually needed. This is because it's very unlikely that the cancer will spread. But you may have a second basal cell carcinoma on a different area of skin. It makes sense to have all of your skin examined by the skin expert. In rare cases of squamous cell carcinoma, further tests may be needed. This is to make sure the cancer hasn't spread to the lymph nodes or another part of your body.
Having cancer can change your life in many ways. Medicines used to treat melanoma may be given as an outpatient treatment. But sometimes people need a short hospital stay. Medicines may be taken by mouth or injected into your bloodstream so they can travel throughout your body. If the melanoma is on an arm or a leg, chemotherapy medicines may be added to a warm solution that is injected into the bloodstream of that limb. The flow of blood to and from that limb is stopped for a short time so the medicine can go right to the tumor.
This is called hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion. The side effects of some of the melanoma medicines can be serious. Surgery is the most common treatment for melanoma. Lymph nodes may be removed at the same time to check them for cancer. Surgery also may be done to remove lymph nodes that have cancer or to remove melanoma that may have spread to other parts of the body.
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The most common types of surgery used to treat melanoma include:. After removal of a melanoma, you may need a skin graft or other reconstructive surgery for cosmetic reasons or to restore function. This is most likely if the melanoma was large or was a late-stage tumor. Radiation treatment is the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
It isn't as effective in treating melanoma as it is in other cancers. But it may be used to reduce the risk of melanoma coming back. Or it may be used when melanoma has spread to other parts fo the body, such as the brain or bone. People sometimes use complementary therapies along with medical treatment to help relieve symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. Some of the complementary therapies that may be helpful include:. Mind-body treatments like the ones listed above may help you feel better. They can make it easier to cope with cancer treatments.
They also may reduce chronic low back pain, joint pain, headaches, and pain from treatments. Before you try a complementary therapy, talk to your doctor about the possible value and potential side effects.
Types of skin cancer - SunSmart
Let your doctor know if you are already using any such therapies. They are not meant to take the place of standard medical treatment. Author: Healthwise Staff. Skin Cancer, Melanoma. Skip Navigation. Topic Overview What is melanoma? What causes melanoma? How is melanoma diagnosed? How is it treated? Can you prevent melanoma? Try to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day from 10 a. Wear sun-protective clothes when you are outside, such as a hat that shades your face, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants. Use sunscreen every day. Your sunscreen should have an SPF of least When you are outdoors for long periods of time, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
Take extra care to protect your skin when you're near water, at higher elevations, or in tropical climates. Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. Health Tools Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health. Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Skin Cancer: Protecting Your Skin. Cause Melanoma is most often caused by too much exposure to the sun's UV rays. Examples include: footnote 1 Having had blistering sunburns at any time of life.
Getting intense sun exposure every now and then. Symptoms You may not have any symptoms in the early stages of melanoma. A is for asymmetry. One half of the mole or skin growth doesn't match the other half. B is for border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred. C is for color. The color is not the same throughout the mole. D is for diameter. The mole or skin growth is larger than the size of a pencil eraser. E is for evolution.
Signs and symptoms of melanoma
There is a change in the size, shape, symptoms such as itching or tenderness , surface especially bleeding , or color of a mole. Melanoma in an existing mole Signs of melanoma in an existing mole include changes in: Elevation, such as thickening or raising of a previously flat mole. Surface, such as scaling, erosion, oozing, bleeding, or crusting. Surrounding skin, such as redness, swelling, or small new patches of color around a larger lesion satellite pigmentations.
Sensation, such as itching, tingling, burning, or pain. Consistency, such as softening or small pieces that break off easily. Signs of melanoma that has spread Symptoms of melanoma that has spread metastatic melanoma may be vague. What Happens Melanoma develops when normal pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and invade surrounding tissues. What Increases Your Risk A risk factor for melanoma is something that increases your chance of getting this cancer.
Risk factors for melanoma include: footnote 1 Too much exposure to the sun's UV rays. This includes: Having had blistering sunburns at any time of life. Fair skin that doesn't tan and tends to sunburn or freckle, along with blue or green eyes or red or blond hair. A large mole you have had since birth. A personal or family history of melanoma.
Changes in your genes, like the change that causes a skin disease called Xeroderma pigmentosum. When To Call a Doctor The most important warning sign for melanoma is a change in size, shape, or color of a mole or other skin growth such as a birthmark. Call your doctor if you have: Any change in a mole, including size, shape, color, soreness, or pain.
A bleeding mole. A discolored area under a fingernail or toenail not caused by an injury. A general darkening of the skin unrelated to sun exposure. Call your doctor immediately if you have been diagnosed with melanoma and: You have trouble breathing or swallowing. You cough up or spit up blood. You have blood in your vomit or bowel movement. Your urine or bowel movement is black, and the blackness isn't caused by taking iron or Pepto-Bismol.
Who to see The following health professionals can help diagnose melanoma: Family medicine doctor Internist Dermatologist Nurse practitioner Physician assistant Pathologist If further treatment is needed, melanoma can be treated by a dermatologist, surgeon, plastic or reconstructive surgeon , or medical oncologist. Exams and Tests To check for melanoma and whether or not it has spread, your doctor may: Do a physical exam of your skin.
Do a skin biopsy. Your doctor will take a sample of your skin and have it tested for melanoma. Check your lymph nodes to see if they are larger than normal. This may be followed by a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the melanoma has spread to your lymph system. Use imaging tests to see if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, such as the lungs, brain, or liver. Finding skin cancer early Do a skin self-exam regularly. Your partner or a close friend can help you check places that are hard to see, such as your scalp and back.
Have your doctor check any suspicious skin changes. You may need to see your doctor for regular checkups if you have: Familial atypical mole and melanoma FAM-M syndrome , which is an inherited tendency to develop melanoma. Your doctor may need to check you every 4 to 6 months. Increased exposure to ultraviolet UV radiation because of your job, hobbies, or outdoor activities. Abnormal moles called atypical moles. These moles aren't cancerous. But their presence is a warning of an inherited tendency to develop melanoma.
What’s the Difference Between Melanoma and Skin Cancer?
Treatment Overview Melanoma may be cured if it's found and treated in its early stages when it affects only the skin. Treatment choices Treatments for melanoma include: Surgery. The entire melanoma is cut out, along with a border margin of normal-appearing skin.
Chemotherapy , which uses medicines to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Immunotherapy , which uses medicines to help your body's immune system fight the cancer. Targeted therapy with inhibitors.
Related Skin Cancer: Melanoma
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