Types of skin cancer treatment
When the patient is diagnosed with skin cancer, the specialist doctor will check the staging of the disease, ie the stage of growth.
Know the ways to treat skin cancer and what precautions should be taken during treatment
The patient diagnosed with skin cancer can undergo several treatment modalities, with advanced and specific techniques for this purpose. The procedure to be chosen will depend on the type of tumor and its location.
In this article you will see the important precautions to be taken during treatment and ways to treat skin cancer, to ensure greater efficiency and better quality of life for the patient.
According to the National Cancer Institute (INCA), the forecast is for 170,000 new cases of skin cancer in Brazil this year. Early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment, as well as all the care that the patient can have with skin health.
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of tumor cells at the site, which arise after the body fails to repair a genetic mutation. This change can lead to nodules that can develop into cancer. Among diagnosed patients, there are three most common types of the disease:
Basal cell carcinoma
It originates in the basal cells of the epidermis (one of the three main tissues of the skin), responsible for skin renewal and therefore undergo a process of intense cell division. “Carcinoma” is the name given to any cancer that has developed in a tissue such as the skin or mucosa.
squamous cell carcinoma
Its appearance is in the outermost layer of the epidermis and accounts for 20% of skin cancer cases, being more common in regions such as the face, ears, lips and neck. Other places of origin are old wounds or scars on some part of the body. Along with basal cell, it is grouped as “non-melanoma skin cancer”.
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer, due to its high possibility of spreading the cancer to other organs. Its name is due to the place where it originates: in melanocytes, cells that produce melanin, the pigment responsible for giving color to the skin.
Early detection of melanoma skin cancer is very important so that the chances of cure are great.
Types of skin cancer treatment
When the patient is diagnosed with skin cancer, the specialist doctor will check the staging of the disease, ie the stage of growth. This will help define the most appropriate treatment for the disease. Among the various modalities currently available, the following stand out:
During excision surgery, the doctor anesthetizes the area of skin where the tumor is and removes it. A part of healthy skin, close to the cancer, can also be removed. If the patient still does not have the final diagnosis of the disease, this removed tissue will be sent for analysis by a pathologist.
Mohs surgery is a technique that allows a very thin layer of cancer to be removed and examined under a microscope. If there are still tumor cells in that tissue, the doctor removes another layer, and so on until no more cancer is found.
This procedure can bring good results and have less impact on the patient’s quality of life than excision surgery.
Cryosurgery is a less invasive technique than conventional surgery. In this procedure, the doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the cancer cells in the tissue. This process can be repeated until the entire tumor is gone.
It is possible for the specialist to apply this treatment in a very limited region, favoring the preservation of the patient’s healthy tissues.
This surgical technique is often used in precancerous conditions such as actinic keratosis (a rough, scaly patch of skin that can be caused by years of sun exposure) or early-stage skin cancer. During the procedure, the doctor will use a focused beam of light to destroy the cancer cells.
Laser surgery, along with the patient’s body immunity, can produce blistering wounds that will heal in a few weeks. In this type of treatment, it is essential to keep all the skin hydrated, especially close to the surgery site.
Electrodissection and curettage
Electrodissection and curettage is a treatment method in which the doctor uses a scraping instrument, such as a curette, and electrical currents to remove small, superficial skin cancers.
The drugs used in chemotherapy are aimed at destroying fast-growing cells – a characteristic of skin cancer cells. They can be ingested intravenously (medicine applied in the vein) or orally, in addition to being a treatment for skin tumors that can be complementary to a surgical procedure.
Chemotherapy tends to leave the patient’s skin very dry and dryness causes irritations such as itching. That’s why it’s important to keep the skin well hydrated with special products for cancer patients.
In cases of non-melanoma skin tumors, a special ointment or cream can be used in the area of the disease, especially in the region of the head.
In this procedure, the patient may have redness on the face and some crusts, which should come off in two to three weeks. To ensure that there are no complications, it is important that the skin always remains hydrated during this period.
The specialist will position an external source of high precision to eliminate tumor cells in the region of the skin that has cancer. Radiotherapy, as well as chemotherapy, can be complementary to surgical techniques, eliminating cancerous elements that may have remained in the patient after tumor removal.
Radiotherapy is one of the most well-known procedures, and one of its side effects on the skin are burns that cause great discomfort. Therefore, it is very important to moisturize the skin, with special products, as soon as the treatment begins.
Precautions to be taken during treatment
The patient’s health during cancer treatment should be the main focus of the person himself as well as his family members and/or caregivers. It is on a daily basis that the body’s reactions to the treatment can be observed, with precautions to be taken to ensure the greatest possible effectiveness and better quality of life.
During the treatment of skin cancer, several postoperative care will be necessary to avoid conditions such as bleeding or redness. In non-melanoma tumors, these effects are temporary and can be avoided with medications or creams that protect the skin from the injury.
These patients may see the surgical site become swollen or bruised (a “purple”), but clinical follow-up alone is sufficient. An important care to take is to use moisturizing creams in the region, so that they can keep the skin hydrated and healthy, and avoid exposing the skin to the sun.
If the patient undergoes chemotherapy, changes in the skin, nails and allergic reactions may occur, as well as increased sensitivity to the sun. The appearance of wounds or spots should be reported to the specialist doctor to monitor the situation.
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