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Overview

Skin Cancer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment?

A variety of reasons can cause malignant cells to develop in the tissues of the skin. This condition is called skin cancer. Although a type of cancer, skin cancer is quite curable if detected early. So, if you find an unusual spot or lump on your skin or a part of your skin that shows signs of discolouration or changes in size or shape in any way, you must not delay to consult a doctor. The doctor will remove a part of the affected skin and send it to a laboratory for a biopsy. A biopsy will be able to confirm the presence of malignant cells in the skin. It takes almost a week for the results of a biopsy to come in.

The doctor prescribes a particular course of treatment depending on the type of cancer, the stage it has reach and also its location. The three most common types of skin cancer are BCC, SCC and melanoma. SCC or Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the types of cancer that occurs due to the formation of malignant cells in the epidermis of the skin. BCC or basal cell carcinoma develops in the basal cells that surround the squamous cells of the epidermis. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. The human skin has cells called melanocytes that produce the skin-colouring pigment melanin. When these melanocytes turn cancerous, the condition is called melanoma or malignant melanoma.

While deciding upon the best treatment option, the doctor takes into account the patient's age and general health as well. The most effective forms of treatment are surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, freezing and scraping.

How is the treatment done?

The most effective treatment for skin cancer is surgery. Now there are different types of surgery that can be performed depending on the type and stage of cancer. If the skin has developed a small cancerous part, that part of the skin can be easily removed by performing excisional surgery. If the affected portion of the skin is bigger in size, some of the nearbuy skin may have to be removed as well and the patient may need skin grafting to cover the area. Moh's Micrographic surgery is another technique in which the affected skin is removed a tissue at a time and examined under the microsope. The process is continued till no cancer cell is left in the skin. If the cancer is very small, instead of removing it, the doctor freezes and kills the cancerous cells by spraying or injecting them with liquid nitrogen. This process is called cyrotherapy. Another surgical process is lymphadenectomy where the lymph nodes nearby the cancer cells are removed to prevent spreading the cancerous cells to those lymph nodes. Curettage and electrocautery is another surgical technique where the cancerous cells are scrapped off and either heat or electricity is used to prevent any bleeding.

There are superficial skin cancers like BCC that don't require surgery and can be treated by laser therapy. Laser therapy involves shining a very intense beam of light on the cancerous growth to destroy it. There is also radiotherapy in which X-rays are used to destroy the cancerous cells. Radiotherapy is also used for large cancers that are are formed too deep inside the skin or for cancers that are formed at areas where surgery might be hazardous. Photodynamic Therapy or PDT is a relatively new form of treatment that has proved to be somewhat effective in skin cancer treatment. In PDT, cancer cells are destroyed using a light-sensitive drug and a beam of visible light. Topical medications, immunotherapy and chemotherapy, though not very common for skin cancer treatment, can also be effective depending on a number of factors.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Depending on general health condition and age, anyone suffering from skin cancer is eligible to receive treatmen for the same.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Doctors try to avoid radiation therapy for treating young people with skin cancer as radiotherapy sometimes ends up increasing chances of cancer in other parts of the body in the future.

Are there any side effects?

The treatment for skin cancer has a few possible side effects. Radiotherapy is a very common form of treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Radiotherapy causes irritation in and around the area of the skin being treated, skin discolouration and hair-loss in that particular area. Radiation also causes some damage to the salivary glands and teeth when it used to treat cancer formed around these structures. Chemotherapy causes acne, discolouration, blistering, peeling and hepersensitivity to the sun. Chemotherapy also causes the nails to become brittle or cracked.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Patients who have undergone treatment for skin cancer are usually advised to avoid direct contact with sunlight for long periods of time. Patients are also advised to use creams providing UV protection while going out in the sunlight. Patients must follow up with their doctors to help detect the cancer in the earliest possible stage if it does come back.

How long does it take to recover?

The length of the recovery period really depends on the type of treatment that the patient went through. However, whether it was surgery or otherwise, it should not take a patient more than a week to a few months to recover completely.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of the treatment depends on the stage of the disease and the particular course of treatment followed. However, it is not a very cheap disease to have. The treatment for skin cancer can cost anywhere between Rs.10,000-Rs.2,50,000 depending on a lot of factors.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Skin cancer is almost curable if it can be detected at a very early stage. 98% people survive for 5 years and more if their cancer gets diagnosed at an early stage. But, the survival rate goes down to 62% if the cancer spreads through the body in its later stages. And even if the cancer gets cured, there is no guarantee that it won't come back a few years down the line.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The conventional methods for treating skin cancer also bring a lot of side effects to the table. To avoid those, there are a few natural remedies for treating the disease. Black raspberry seed oil, eggplant extract, myrrh oil and frankincense oil are known to have anti-cancer properties and can be used to treat skin cancer. However, there is no proof of their effectiveness.

Safety: High Effectiveness: Medium Timeliness: Medium Relative Risk: Medium Side Effects: High Time For Recovery: Medium Price Range:

Rs.10,000-Rs.2,50,000

Popular Health Tips

4 Types Of Vaginal Cancer

MBBS, MD - Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Gynaecologist, Agra
4 Types Of Vaginal Cancer

Generally identified as a rare and uncommon phenomenon, vaginal cancer most often occurs in the cells present in the outer lining of the vagina, also called the birth canal. Although primary vaginal cancer is rare and unusual, there are various other types of vaginal cancer that originate elsewhere in the body, but have spread over to your vagina.

Depending upon the nature of origin, vaginal cancer can be divided into the following types:

  1. Vaginal adenocarcinoma, beginning in the glandular cells on the surface of your vagina
  2. Vaginal sarcoma, developing in the connective tissue cells and multiple cells lining the walls of your vagina
  3. Vaginal squamous cell carcinoma, originates in the squamous cells lining the surface of the bacteria
  4. Vaginal melanoma, developing in melanocytes, the pigment producing cells in your vagina

Symptoms: As vaginal cancer progresses from one stage to the next, you may experience any one of the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Diluted, watery vaginal discharge
  2. Painful urination
  3. Constipation
  4. Odd cases vaginal bleeding, for instance, after menopause or after intercourse
  5. Formation of lumps in your vagina
  6. Frequent and regular urination
  7. Pelvic pain

Causes: Normally, cancer develops when healthy cells undergo genetic mutations, subsequently leading to the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells. Cancer cells are known to break off from pre-existing tumors and can easily spread everywhere, in what is referred to as metastasize.

Beyond the natural process of development, here are a few factors, which may further contribute to the growth of cancerous cells:

  1. Increasing age
  2. Vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia
  3. Exposure  o miscarriage prevention drugs

Skin Cancer - 10 Things That Can Increase Your Risk!

MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, MBBS, PLAB
Dermatologist, Hyderabad
Skin Cancer - 10 Things That Can Increase Your Risk!

Skin cancer occurs when the DNA of the cells undergo mutations, thus causing unsystematic cell growth which evolve into a cancerous mass. This abnormality stems from the over-exposure of your skin to the Ultraviolet Radiations of the sun.

However, there are other factors too that escalate the risks of skin cancer.

  1. Fairer skin tone: Inadequate pigmentation or melanin content in the skin offers less protection against the harmful UV radiations. Having red or blond hair or light-colored eyes makes you more vulnerable to this condition.
  2. Sunburns: A history of sunburns can often be the root cause behind skin cancer.
  3. Excessive exposure to the sun: If you spend a considerable amount of time under the sun and especially if your skin is not protected by clothing or sunscreen, you tend to get a tan. A tan is the skin’s response to extreme UV radiations.
  4. Moles: Abnormally large moles, known as dysplastic nevi, are more likely to turn malignant. Watch out for any change in the texture of the moles, which is one of the most important symptoms of skin cancer.
  5. Family history: According to studies, genes are considered to be one of the causes behind skin cancer. Hence, a family history of this condition could spell trouble for one.
  6. Personal history: Having suffered from skin cancer previously in life could endanger one even more.
  7. Pre-cancerous skin injury: Skin lesions, also known as actinic keratosis, make you prone to developing pre-cancerous growths on the skin. These could appear as scaly rough patches, ranging from brown to pink in color. They usually crop up on the hands, head and faces of people who are comparatively of a fairer skin tone.
  8. A weak immune system: People having a poor immunity system, including the ones affected by HIV/AIDS or are on immunosuppressant drugs which follow any organ transplantation have greater risks of developing cancer.
  9. Exposure to radiation: Radiation therapy is an often used treatment method for treating various skin conditions such as acne and eczema. Having been exposed to radiations, one could be indisposed to this condition even more.
  10. Exposure to certain chemicals: Exposure to certain substances such as arsenic might increase your vulnerability manifold.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

4145 people found this helpful

Your Diet Help In Fighting Skin Cancer

Your Diet Help In Fighting Skin Cancer

Skin cancer most often develops on skin that has faced sun exposure. At the same time, it can also affect skin areas that haven't been exposed to sun's rays. Do you know, skin cancer can be prevented by consuming some foods? Yes, and there are some out there:

1. Fatty fish - Including fatty fish in your diet can shield you against melanoma as they contain the beneficial nutrient Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, these kinds of fatty acids are considered to be best for consumption as unlike saturated fats, they don't increase your risk for certain types of cancer. A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology reveals that individuals who consume a diet containing fish that is high in these healthy fats have low rates of this form of cancer.
2. Vegetables - This is another food option that is known to possess strong skin cancer-fighting properties. Dark leafy veggies like spinach, kale and broccoli can aid fighting against melanoma. A pigment found in tomatoes called lycopene has properties that guard you against cardiovascular diseases as well as cancers of all kinds. Similarly, the pigment carotenoids found in vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, etc are known to protect against sunburn.
3. Herbs - Including herbs in your diet can help in replenishing the minerals and vitamins that get depleted due to the action of the sun. According to experts, about 80% of your body's vitamin levels see a reduction when you stay under the sun for 30-45 minutes. Basil, parsley, and rosemary are a few of the herbs that possess cancer-fighting qualities.
4. Flaxseeds - The unique qualities of flaxseed make it the best option against skin cancer. It contains both antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids, making it an all-around solution to fighting skin cancer.

Related Tip: Colon cancer - You shouldn't ignore these warning signs!

6 Things You Probably Don't Know About Sunscreen!

MBBS, MD - Dermatology
Dermatologist, Ranchi
6 Things You Probably Don't Know About Sunscreen!

With summer right around the corner, it is tremendously important to stress upon the importance of using sunscreen. The right sunscreen provides protection from the spectrum of harmful rays of the sun that are known as uva and UVB, which not only create the threat of skin cancer but also fasten the process of skin aging. Taking adequate measures against these hazards is thus of prime importance.

No sunscreen provides absolute protection from the harmful rays of the sun but using the right product in the right way will take you far in shielding yourself from their harshness. These are the do's and don'ts you need to follow before you apply sunscreen the next time.

Do: choose a sunscreen that is, at least, spf 30+

That is the minimum protection that your skin requires. And if you must stay outdoors for an extended period of time, opt for a product with a higher SPF rating.

Do: apply sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outdoors

For the product to be most effective, it needs to be fully absorbed by the skin before exposure to the sun; the reason why applying approximately 30 minutes before you step out of home is a must.

Do: test a small amount of the product on yourself before application

Apply a small amount of sunscreen on your wrist first and check for allergic reactions if you're trying it for the first time or are switching over to a new brand. In case it causes an allergic reaction, discontinue use at once and consult a dermatologist regarding, which sunscreen you should use.

Do: use sunscreen every day of the year

The sun's harmful rays persist in all seasons, whether it's summer or winter. Even on cloudy days, it's advisable to apply sunscreen to protect the skin as UV rays are still able to penetrate through thick covers of cloud, thereby harming your skin.

Don't: apply sunscreen only on the face

Make sure you apply it to every part of your body, especially the hands, forearms, thighs and ears, which are commonly exposed to the sun. Not only are these more prone to skin ageing, but the risk of melanoma (skin cancer) is also tremendously high in these portions of the body.

Don't: forget to reapply

Sunscreens rub off quite easily due to sweating or contact with water. Reapply as often as you can, ideally every 2 hours.

Keep in mind that apart from the application of sunscreen, it is also necessary to keep the skin covered as much as possible to protect yourself against skin ailments caused by exposure to the sun.

8 people found this helpful

Skin Health

MBBS, DDV, Aesthetic medicine
Dermatologist, Delhi
Skin Health

A sunscreen lotion with spf 15-30 should be applied daily to protect the skin from damages like sunburn, tanning, sun spots, skin cancer etc.

18 people found this helpful

Popular Questions & Answers

I am 46 years old. I have a slowly growing disfigured mole on my stomach and also many red patches all over upper body. Is it skin cancer sign. What test to detect skin cancer.

MBBS, M.S. General Surgery, M.R.C.S. England, M.Ch. Surgical Oncology, DNB Surgical Oncology, FEBS Surgical Oncology, DNB General Surgery, MNAMS, FMAS, FIAGES, FAIS, FICS, FEBS Breast Surgery, FACS, Fellowship IFHNOS & MSKCC USA, Fellowship in breast and oncplastic Surgery
Oncologist, Mumbai
If its a growing mole, better to see a dermatologist or a cancer surgeon. They would do a biopsy to rule out cancer. The red spots are usually the Campbell De Morgan spots, which are benign, but show those also to the doctor you see, as they need to rule out spider nevi or hemangiomas.

I have a mole on my left arm. The area around it pains on touching. Can it b melanoma?

MCh Plastic Surgery, MS - General Surgery
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Bangalore
Hello, Majority of moles do not convert to melanoma. The indicators of a mole changing to melanoma is assymetrical pigmentation, Borders are irregular, Ulceration multiple other swelling etc. Pain is usually not a feature of melanoma. Consult a dermatologist.

What are the symptoms of skin cancer? How can we treat this. pelase tell me for that

C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha
An unusual skin growth or sore that doesn't go away may be the first indication of a non-melanoma skin cancer. Skin cancer may initially appear as a nodule, rash or irregular patch on the surface of the skin. These spots may be raised and may ooze or bleed easily. As the cancer grows, the size or shape of the visible skin mass may change and the cancer may grow into deeper layers of the skin. It may be difficult to differentiate one form of skin cancer from another, so consult a dermatologist if you notice suspicious or evolving marks on the skin.

What is the symptoms of skin cancer? And how does it looks like, what is its prevention?

C.S.C, D.C.H, M.B.B.S
General Physician, Alappuzha
Most common types Basal cell cancer This cancer typically appears as a white, waxy lump or a brown, scaly patch on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck. Melanoma Symptoms might include a new, unusual growth or a change in an existing mole. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body. Squamous cell skin carcinoma Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a lump, ulcer or scaly patch on the skin.
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Table of Content

What is the treatment?
How is the treatment done?
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Are there any side effects?
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
How long does it take to recover?
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
What are the alternatives to the treatment?