Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Why You Should Never Leave Skin Cancer Untreated

 Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Why You Should Never Leave Skin Cancer Untreated

Skin cancer demands your attention, having the potential to negatively impact your health beyond its appearance on your skin. If you have a cancerous lesion, quick treatment is necessary to prevent it from spreading and becoming far more lethal.

A Brief Skin Cancer Refresher

Skin cancer refers to the out of control growth of skin cells somewhere in the body. Skin cancer has many different forms that depend on where and how that rapid overproduction occurs. Skin cancer is caused by prolonged or accumulated sun damage, owed to the ultraviolet radiation that composes sunlight. While skin cancer can impact anyone, it most often occurs in people who are over 40 and have spent a lot of time in the sun unprotected. Tanning, both naturally and with electric tanning beds are the main contributors to skin cancer in people under 40. A tan or burn is the body’s natural reaction to sun damage. There are many different types of skin cancer, with the three most common being basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. BCC and SCC are the two most common forms of skin cancer in the world, with BCC impacting millions each year. Melanoma is slightly less common, but it’s far deadlier than the others for a few reasons. Melanoma looks a lot like a mole, but the lesions often deviate from what we expect of a common mole. Melanoma is set apart by visual factors like its diameter, color, shape, borders and its tendency to evolve in one or more ways. The ABCDEs of Melanoma were developed in order to aid in identifying melanoma, and these rules lay out the key differences between a common mole and melanoma. These conditions share some similarities but are also set apart by their differences, most notably the speed with which they spread, or metastasize.

Metastasis

Metastasis refers to the development of cancerous cells elsewhere in the body. Skin cancer can metastasize to anywhere, though its likelihood to spread and its speed differs from condition to condition. Melanoma is most likely to spread, and it’s also the quickest to metastasize. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are both slower moving, and with many cases of SCC, they can be preceded by actinic keratosis. Actinic keratosis is a precancerous lesion that has the potential for becoming skin cancer. Any AK should be removed before it has the opportunity to become skin cancer.

Frequent skin cancer screenings are critical to your health. If you don’t notice or ignore obvious skin cancer signs, skin cancer can be lethal. It doesn’t take all that long for the right skin cancer to metastasize, so do not put it off even if it’s something you’ve had before. If you’ve had skin cancer before, you are more likely to have it again. Once skin cancer spreads inward and metastasizes to other organs, it is much harder to treat. This is especially true of melanoma. The chances of survival in melanoma that’s been treated before it can spread is 99%. If allowed to reach the lymph nodes the odds diminish to 65%, and it’s a worrying 25% if spread to distant organs. Ultimately, metastasization is the main threat that skin cancer poses to your health.

Skin cancer is highly treatable if detected early, but if you ignore treatment or the symptoms, your chances of effective treatment are a lot lower. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the skin cancer treatment experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates; your health can depend on it.

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