Basal Cell Cancer - Patients ask Dr. Ringpfeil answers
Please feel free to use the blog below to share information about Basal Cell Cancer or to ask Dr. Franziska Ringpfeil a question that might be of interest to others.
Skin cancer is uncontrollable cell growth of the skin, and most commonly involves the outer epidermis layer. There are four main types of skin cancer and the most common (basal cell) is the least deadly. Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancerous tumor arising on sun-exposed skin in older people. The cells are thin and flat on the top of the skin. Squamous cell cancers are more commonly found in men than women. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common human cancer, progresses slowly and rarely metastasizes. The basal cells are round and often develop into a slightly raised area. Melanoma is the less common but more deadly form of skin cancer, and develops in the lower layers of the skin and appears darkly pigmented. Increasing public awareness of skin cancer allows most patients to be cured surgically in the early stages of the disease. However, if left untreated melanoma quickly progresses to the more dangerous classification of malignant melanoma.
The cells of the skin are continually exposed to UV radiation which can irreversibly damage the cell's DNA and life cycle. Once this damage occurs the probability of developing squamous, basal, or melanoma tumors increases. However, untreated burns and genetic factors predispose some people to develop skin cancers. One of the easiest ways to protect against developing skin cancer is to administer sun screen whenever outside. Most people do not realize that the SPF factor represents the time that a person can avoid developing a sunburn. Therefore, patients should reapply suntan lotion frequently.
Skin cancers can be detected at home but are formally diagnosed in a doctors office. Commonly, skin cancers look different than surrounding skin since the color and texture begins to change. Cancers can resemble moles that have irregular boundaries, or patches of skin that appear yellow, red, brown, black, or scar-like. Most importantly, all types of skin cancers appear different than the surrounding skin. If a doctor suspects skin cancer, the next step involves performing a biopsy in which a small portion of the unusual skin is removed and tested for cancer.
Treatment options and the chance of curing the cancer depends upon the type and stage of the tumor. Stage refers to the size of the tumor, if the cancer has invaded lymph nodes and whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Four main types of treatment are: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and photodynamic (laser) therapy.
After the necessary treatment sessions, the cancerous area is closely observed by both the doctor and patient for reoccurrence. If the cancer does reoccur your doctor may try a different type of treatment depending on the circumstances. The probability of eliminating the cancer and preventing return depends on many factors such as age, genetics, and stage of the initial cancer. Depending on the treatment, you may miss work, so communicating with friends and family is important for support. Most importantly, maintaining your body's health will increase the likelihood of eliminating the cancer.
American Cancer Society
1599 Clifton Rd, NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
National Cancer Institute
Office of Communications
National Institute for Health
9000 Rockville Pike
Bldg 31, Room 10A31
Bethesda, MD 20892
Contact: Paul Van Nevel