Skin cancer is mainly caused by Ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun. Using a sunscreen lotion prevents the effects of these rays on the skin. An effective sunscreen which is highly recommended should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 and above. It should have ingredients such as oxybenzone, zinc oxide, and ecamsule. Water resistant sunscreen should be used when sunbathing or staying outdoors for longer. It should be applied regularly on the skin as well. During hot days, one should seek shade from the sun especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
The arms, the neck, and the face are at risk of too much exposure to UV rays when driving. Window film is important for drivers. It should be able to shield away Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The use of a sunscreen lotion is also highly recommended, especially for long distance driving. Wearing sunglasses, long-sleeve tops and closing the car’s sunroof should be part of the UV protection regimen. For convertible cars, wear a wide-brimmed hat. Children should not stay outdoors in the sun for longer. Lastly, getting a skin examination by a physician is essential. Sun tanning should be examined for early diagnosis of any possible form of skin cancer.
Suspicious moles, lesions or any skin marks should be examined by a Dermatologist. These could be symptoms of skin cancer. The shapes and sizes as well as whether they bleed or itch are all important in diagnosing skin cancer. Dermatoscopy is the technique used in the diagnosis process. Inflammations in the lymph nodes can also be a symptom of skin cancer which has spread to the surrounding organs. If the symptoms really show the possibility of a skin cancer, a skin biopsy is done.
A skin biopsy is a detailed examination of the skin. There are different kinds of skin biopsies. A tangential biopsy involves the removal of a sample of the top skin layer from the affected area for examination. One should discuss with the doctor about the scarring of the skin in this procedure. The second type of biopsy is an FNA biopsy. In an FNA biopsy, lymph nodes are examined and any tumor removed for examination. An excisional and Punch biopsy is used in the further diagnosis of skin cancer. The two procedures sample the full thickness of the skin for examination. An optical biopsy is another skin biopsy which does not involve sample removal.
A CT scan follows the skin biopsy as an examination of any possible spread of cancerous cells to the surrounding organs. The sample from the skin biopsy procedure is taken for laboratory tests by a pathologist or a dermatopathologist. Some of the test which will follow include CGH and IHC tests. The examinations in this stage seek to know the stage of the tumor, the mutant cells, and the suitable treatment option. An X-ray test will follow to examine the conditions of the other body organs. The doctor can also do an MRI scan to check the condition of the brain and spinal cord and or blood tests to examine the LDH levels. All these examinations give an idea on the therapy options to be considered in the treatment of skin cancer.
Once the examination has proved the presence of skin cancer, treatment begins. The suitable therapy options are chosen based on the stage of cancer, the age of the patient and the side effects. Surgery is used to treat cancer in the early stages. It can be an excision, amputation or a Mohs surgery. An excision is a minor surgery to remove skin cancer cells. All these operations are performed by a surgical oncologist. The third type of surgery is a Lymph node dissection. The side effects include limb swelling due to the accumulation of lymph fluids.
Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy are the treatment option in the advanced stages of skin cancer. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs, injection or pills to kill the skin cancer cells. Some of these drugs are Cisplatin and Temozolomide. The treatment is administered in cycles to allow recuperation of the patient. Hair loss and infections are some of the side effects. Immunotherapy is a treatment procedure which involves the stimulation of the body immune system to fight the cancer cells. Radiotherapy uses strong x-rays to kills the tumors. It can be used together with chemotherapy.