Skin cancer. A positive attitude, self-examination of the body, avoid sun exposure in the range 11-15 and going regularly to control, to a dermatologist can save you from disease. The most exposed are those blondes and redheads, those who had unexpected exposure to the sun and those who use artificial tanning.
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Melanoma found in an early stage, localized, without metastases may be curable at a rate of 88%. Squamous and basal cell carcinoma discovered early and treated properly, has a cure rate of over 95%.
The highest incidence of cancer is basal cell, representing 80% of all malignant tumors. Approximately 20% of basal cell carcinoma develop at least one lifetime. Older adults are most affected category.
Second place is situated squamous cell cancer, representing 16% of all malignant skin tumors. It affects about 1% of the population.
Melanoma represents about 4% of all cases of skin cancer. Its incidence is in an alarming increase. It is estimated that in 10 years the number of cases of melanoma is doubling from the previous decade. Its frequency is different depending on geographical area, skin type of the inhabitants and the level of ultraviolet radiation.
The average age of diagnosis of melanoma is 52, but most worrying is that it is continuously decreasing, there are few cases where melanoma is detected in people under 30 years.
The main factors predisposing to skin cancer are multiple. In less than 5% of cases there are genetic heritage.
Another question is on skin phototype. There are 6 skin phototypes:
Type 1: people who never tan but always burn with very white skin. These people are usually red, blue or green eyes and freckles may be or not.
Type 2: people who frequently burn in the sun, sometimes tans with difficulty, people with white skin and blue eyes, blond or brown hair.
Type 3: persons who burn and tan in the sun sometimes, people with brown eyes, brown hair.
Type 4: people who rarely burn and always tan in the sun, people brunettes, with dark hair and dark eyes or brown.
Type 5: people who tan easily and more, but not burned, people with moderate pigmentation.
Type 6: people who do not burn, those with marked pigmentation – Africans.
People with skin phototype ½ have an increased risk of developing skin cancer, while those with phototype 5 / 6 have a very low risk.
Excessive exposure to sunlight is the major cause of melanoma. Prolonged exposure to sunlight (not necessarily the beach, but simply in the activities in open air) is the leading cause of basal and squamous cell carcinomas.
Other culprits for skin cancer can be skin trauma, medical or industrial exposure to X-rays, the existence of pre-malignant lesions (scars, ulcers, radiodermatitis), occupational exposure to compounds such as coal, arsenic, asbestos, tar.
For cancer is also guilty melanin preexisting lesions. Atypical moles that appear in some families, like the large number of moles (over 100) can serve as guidance for those with increased risk of melanoma.
The list also includes for causes of cancer immunosuppression and virus infection (HPV 16, 18, 30, 33).
Regular self-examination (once a month) is the most important maneuver that you can do to detect early skin cancer lesion. Control of the entire body: front, back, the sides, in front of a mirror in a well lit room. We must not forget armpits, the back in the arms, forearms, thighs and legs, feet, skin between the fingers, neck and genital area.
A mole on the body should not scare you, but not leave you indifferent, especially if it changes its shape, color and size. A visit to a doctor, in such a situation is required. Besides moles, discover and present to the dermatologist any new or growing lesion, regardless of color (black, brown, red, pink, hypochromic) and form, and any ulcers that will not heal.
It is preferable that any person to benefit of dermatological control once a year, especially if you have personal or family history of skin cancer. During this visit, the dermatologist evaluates each mole initially with only the eye, then with dermatoscopy (device featuring optical systems with high magnification and with which to observe in detail the characteristics of moles and other skin lesions). Following these tests, the doctor is able to assess the negative potential of a mole and recommend a surgical removal of it.
The worst attitude is when the patient is trying to diagnose and treat himself.
Regardless of the causes that led to disease, when you have skin cancer you should have in mind that almost any type, if early discovered, is treatable. A person who found out that is sick must accept the steps proposed by the team of doctors: dermatologist, oncologist and surgeon.
Treatment methods are varied and depend on the type of skin cancer. The preferred attitude is the surgical excision of the lesion with oncological safety margins. The piece is then subjected to a histopathological examination, to have microscopic confirmation about the type and level of invasiveness of the tumor.
In centers with special equipment of the pathology service for selected patients with invasive tumors usually located on the face, you can practice the surgical excision (Mohs surgery) – based on intraoperative pathologic tumor control. This makes proper removal of the tumor and healthy tissue preservation.
Treatment for melanoma is exclusive surgical. Depending on the stage of disease, the verification of ganglion damage is indicated (this includes the identification, excision and sentinel lymph microscopic examination) and systemic chemotherapy to prevent or treat metastasis – to be determined by the oncologist.
Depending on the type of tumor and the associated pathology of the patient, other skin cancers can be treated using methods such as electrocautery, laser surgery, cryosurgery (liquid nitrogen applications), photodynamic therapy (lesion exposure to a light source with a prior application of photosensitizing substances), local treatment (5-fluorouracil, imiquimod), radiotherapy.
1. Avoid sitting in the sun, especially between 11-15 hours.
2. Do not expose to direct sunlight or reflected by the water, sand or snow.
3. Wear clothes, hats and sunglasses that absorb UV radiation.
4. Use sunscreen with a protection index SPF (sun protection factor), chosen according to skin phototype, and daily time spent outdoors. Protective creams are effective screen if the application is correct.
5. 80% of sunlight penetrates through clouds, so that sunburn can occur on cloudy days.
6. Do not go to solar.
7. Examine your moles monthly.
8. Go in a chosen interval to the dermatologist for examinations.