Delta Medix Patient General Information

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer forms in the tissues of the skin. There are several types of skin cancer. Skin cancer that forms in the outer layer of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma. Skin cancer that forms in cells that form the surface of the skin is called squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell skin cancer is several times more common than squamous cell cancer. Most skin cancers form in older people on parts of the body exposed to the sun or in people who have weakened immune systems.

Skin cancer can invade the normal tissue nearby, and can spread throughout the body. When skin cancer cells do spread, they break away from the original growth and enter blood vessels or lymph vessels. The cancer cells may be found in nearby lymph nodes. The cancer cells can also spread to other tissues and attach there to form new tumors that may damage those tissues. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

Symptoms of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers

  • A lump that is small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy
  • A sore or lump that bleeds or develops a crust or scab
  • A red or brown patch that is rough and scaly
  • A lump that is firm and red
  • A flat red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly and may become itchy or tender

If you have a change on your skin, the doctor must find out whether or not the problem is from cancer by performing a biopsy on the skin.

Treatment Options for Skin Cancer

  • Surgery is the usual treatment for people with skin cancer. In general, the surgeon will remove the cancerous growth and some normal tissue around it. This reduces the chance that cancer cells will be left in the area. There are several methods of surgery for skin cancer. The method your doctor uses depends mainly on the type of skin cancer, the size of the cancer, and where it was found on your body.
  • Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Drugs for skin cancer can be given in many ways. A cream or lotion form of chemotherapy may be used to treat early-stage basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer.
  • Photodynamic Therapy uses a drug absorbed by cancer cells along with a special light source, such as laser light, to kill cancer cells. When the light is focused on the cancer, the drug becomes active and destroys the cancer cells.
  • Radiation Therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It affects cells only in the treated area and may be used for skin cancer in areas where a surgery could be difficult or leave a bad scar. It may also be used after surgery for cancer that cannot be completely removed or that has spread to the lymph nodes.