Monday, 21 November 2016

Diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer (1)

Diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer (1)
To diagnose skin cancer, the doctor may:
·         Examine the skin. The doctor may look at the skin to determine whether the skin changes are likely to be skin cancer. Further testing may be needed to confirm that diagnosis.
·         Remove a sample of suspicious skin for testing (skin biopsy). The doctor may remove the suspicious-looking skin for lab testing. A biopsy can determine whether the patient has skin cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer he has.
If the doctor determines that the patient has skin cancer, he may have additional tests to determine the extent of the skin cancer.
Because superficial skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma rarely spread, a biopsy which removes the entire growth often is the only test needed to determine the cancer stage. But if the patient has a large squamous cell carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma or melanoma, the doctor may recommend further tests to determine the extent of the cancer.
Additional tests might include imaging tests to examine the nearby lymph nodes for signs of cancer or a procedure to remove a nearby lymph node and test it for signs of cancer (sentinel lymph node biopsy). The skin cancer's stage helps determine which treatment options will be most effective.

The main treatments

The main treatment for skin cancer is surgery. For most people this will be all the treatment they need. Radiotherapy can also be used to treat and cure skin cancers. The patient may have this instead of surgery if an operation is not suitable for him. Radiotherapy can also be given after surgery to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. Another alternative to an operation for basal cell skin cancer is treatment with a drug to make the skin sensitive to light. This is followed by treatment with a bright light to the affected area. This treatment is called photodynamic therapy (PDT). Chemotherapy is only occasionally used for skin cancer.

Surgery

Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be successfully treated with surgery. In most cases the surgery is minor. The affected area is completely removed, usually under local anaesthetic. There are several different types of surgical techniques that can be used. What is done will depend on
  • The type of skin cancer you have
  • The size of the cancer
  • Where the cancer is
  • The stage of the cancer.


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