Out of all cancer types, skin cancer is the most common form of this disease in the United States. Each day, close to 10,000 people are diagnosed with this form of cancer.
Fortunately, basic forms of this cancer are highly curable if early detection and treatment are enacted. Nevertheless, the procedures related to removal and after-affects like scarring can be uncomfortable for some. To the point they might delay treatment if they detect another discolored patch of skin.
To avoid this, here are some procedures and treatments that can make the journey more comfortable.
Many skin doctor clinics, Sundoctors as an example, use this nonsurgical treatment to remove what are medically called Actinic Keratoses. In other words, affected areas that are considered pre-skin cancers.
In this outpatient treatment, the area is sprayed with liquid nitrogen to kill the damaged cells. In turn, abnormal tissues are destroyed. While it may be slightly uncomfortable at first, nerve irritation is reduced in the long run.
- Mohs micrographic surgery
Rather than removing a section of skin that leaves a scar, Mohs micrographic surgery takes off a thin tissue layer that contains the tumour. Next, frozen sections of these tissues are mapped and examined under a microscope. If cancer is present in the sample, the surgery is repeated on the area of the body where it was detected.
This microsurgery continues until the last excised layer is found cancer-free. Not only does this treatment have a 99% cure rate but it saves the largest amount of healthy tissue. Thus, there is little or no scarring. This is positive when the cancer is detected in cosmetically important areas.
- Photodynamic Therapy
Known as PDT, this treatment involves a combination of specialized light and topical medication. In turn, cure rates average approximately 80%.
In PDT, a medicated cream is applied to the designated skin area. This is activated by a strong blue light that destroys the affected area while maintaining healthy tissues.
There are some minor side effects to PDT. For example, slight redness, swelling, and mild pain. In addition, you must avoid direct sunlight for at least 48 hours. Nevertheless, these are small issues in the effort to reduce scarring and destruction of large swaths of healthy tissue.
- Topical medications
In addition to the cream used with PDT, there are other topical treatments being used to treat skin cancer. One of these is chemotherapy cream.
This is normally a drug called 5-fluorouracil. However, should you be diagnosed with skin cancer, you may know it as 5FU. Within the cream are anti-cancer drugs that destroy the infected cells once applied to the skin.
To maintain its effectiveness, the cream is used for three to four weeks until the area becomes sore. At this point, the treatment is near its end and steroid cream can be used to ease the discomfort. Within one to two weeks the area will heal with no sign of scarring.
The body’s immune system is a powerful weapon to destroy defective cells. Immunotherapy helps to eliminate skin cancer through several methods. For instance, checkpoint inhibitors disrupt cancer cell signals, so they are exposed to attack from the immune system.
Another way immunotherapy works is, to help release synthesized cytokines into the body. In turn, these protein molecules regulate and direct the immune system toward the cancerous cells.
If you have recently detected what could be skin cancer, reach out to your primary physician for assistance. If it is determined to be cancer, ask them about alternative treatments that can minimize pain and scarring while maintaining as much healthy tissue as possible.