Skin cancer is contracted by approximately 60,000 people in the UK each year. It is normally caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light which makes the process of cell division in your skin malfunction. As a result your skin cells start to multiply in a rapid, out of control way leading to the formation of a cancerous tumour which usually appears as a blemish on your skin. Fortunately, most of these cancers are very treatable if caught in the early stages. In this article I am going to be discussing three of the possible skin cancer treatments that are available to you.
1) SURGERY:- This is the most common treatment for this type of cancer. Smaller tumours can normally be removed under local anaesthetic. However, larger tumours may require a skin graft which involves the cancerous skin being removed and then replaced with a layer of healthy skin taken from another part of the body. If the cancer has spread beyond the skin and to the lymph nodes (glands that help the body get rid of unwanted bacteria) they may also have to be removed through surgery. This type of treatment has few side effects but may result in some permanent scarring of the skin depending upon the size and position of the tumour.
2) RADIOTHERAPY:- This type of treatment involves using high energy radiation beams to shrink or kill any cancerous cells. It is normally used as an alternative to surgery as it can treat the skin cancer without any scarring. Radiotherapy may also be used following surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells and reduce the chances of the cancer returning. Although radiotherapy does not result in scarring there are a number of negative side effects including a feeling of sickness similar to the flu, general tiredness and hair loss in the affected area. However, these side effects are generally temporary and will stop once the radiotherapy treatment ends.
3) CRYOTHERAPY:- This type of treatment involves freezing the cancerous cells using liquid nitrogen. It is most effective for early stage skin cancers and may not be possible with more advanced cancers. If this treatment is used the affected skin will scab over and after about a month this scab will fall off. Cryotherapy is a very low risk procedure but there is a small risk of scarring or infection on the area of skin that is treated.
Although skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK it is highly treatable with the success rates being particularly high if it is discovered in the early stages. Therefore, if you notice any unusual skin blemishes that have been there for a while go see your doctor right away. It may turn out to be nothing but if it is an early stage cancerous growth your chances of successful treatment will be much higher if you get it diagnosed now instead of leaving it to grow.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Skin cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.