Skin Cancer – Screening and Prompt Treatment Can Save Your Life
Skin cancer or melanoma is a serious and potentially fatal condition if ignored or left untreated. This type of cancer is common among people belonging to the Anglo Saxon background and statistics has revealed that the highest incidence of melanoma has been noted in the Australian population.
Regular screening tests for the early detection of this cancer is very important as it can be of tremendous help during treatment achieving an almost complete cure. But if left untreated, skin cancer can be fatal.
Screening tests – Am I at risk of developing melanoma?
Skin cancer affects people of all age groups and some people are at higher risk for developing this cancer like those belonging to certain ethnic groups like Anglo Saxon and Anglo Celtic, people with fairer complexion or with prior sunburn episodes. People who work out in the sun or play summer sports are also at increased risk.
It is important to get a screening test conducted at a clinic or hospital which has experienced doctors who have undergone extensive training in the detection and treatment of skin cancers. The doctor will first perform an extensive physical examination along with a detailed history.
Advanced screening equipment called the MoleMax HD system is used to analyze any suspicious moles on the patient’s body. Dermoscopy images are also captured if any mole looks suspicious and biopsies are carried out and sent for pathology studies to rule out skin cancer. A full body mapping is done using this latest technology so that no mole or suspicious area of the skin is missed.
This test is conducted primarily for medium and high-risk patients and the highest quality of standards are maintained to ensure minimal detection error. Apart from moles, skin lesions like lumps and bumps on the skin are also examined thoroughly. Keratoses or sun spots are also commonly seen in Australians who belong to the Anglo Celtic ethnic group and if left untreated, these spots are at risk of developing into squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
If any mole or patch on the skin is found to be positive for melanoma, then the patient has to report back to the doctor. The most common therapeutic method involved is excision of the mole which has given a positive result for skin cancer in the pathology studies. Solar keratoses are treated using different methods like cryotherapy, topical therapy, photodynamic or curettage and cautery therapy.
What are the different types of skin cancer?
There are basically 3 different types of skin cancer; basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and is usually found in the upper body and face. These are raised bumps which are pearl-like in appearance which if detected early can be easily treated with a topical cream.
Squamous cell carcinoma appears mainly on the sun-exposed areas and appears flaky, red and raised nodules which often tend to bleed. This type of cancer can spread to other organs easily. Smoking is another causative factor for this type of cancer.
Melanoma is rarer but more fatal with a hereditary pattern. These appear as moles which grow in size or change shape, color or texture fast. Surgical excision is required to remove these followed by therapy for a complete cure if detected early.