- Published on: Aug 12, 2021
- 2 minute read
- By: Oncologist Online
Is Skin Cancer Really Serious?
Is skin cancer really serious?
A good measure of the seriousness of skin cancer is its depth and how far it has spread to other parts of the body. Normal skin cancers are confined to the epidermis (outermost layer) or just below it - melanoma cells have already begun to invade into the dermal layer which can cause blindness, disfigurement, or death if not treated immediately. Thankfully there is a lot that can be done about this disease before any major damage can happen- either through specialty clinics like Second Medic Medical Consultation Online now in business that works with all major insurance companies OR by visiting your local dermatologist yourself. Skin cancer can be life-threatening but it's extremely rare because cells usually mutate before progressing.
Skin cancer can kill you, and the prognosis for melanoma isn't necessarily good, as it tends to metastasize more often than other forms of skin cancer.
Undiagnosed cancers are particularly dangerous because they tend to be larger when they are found and harder to treat surgically; a study found that patients whose cancer had spread (metastasized) were 3-5 times worse off after surgery than those without metastases. Neurofibromatosis type I carriers appear to have a higher risk of developing malignant melanomas.
If it is not caught early enough and left untreated, most cancers will lead to death in a few years. In fact, over a million Americans die from skin cancer each year because many people refuse to go for yearly checkups and take their own health seriously. Remember that fair-skinned people are especially vulnerable to melanoma because they do not tan when exposed to the sun; therefore, they accumulate more damage on their skin than someone with dark skin.
The long answer includes links to some places that you can find out about your risk of developing skin cancer by assessing your family history of blistering sun exposure or the presence of moles or freckles on your body.
Skin cancer can kill you, but not always. These cancers rarely metastasize or travel (spread) to other organs in the body. Reducing the number of skin cancers may lengthen life expectancy. Even if a disease such as skin cancer is not fatal, it may produce symptoms that cause significant discomfort and even pain in itself. Anyone suffering from bouts of these symptoms would want relief and possibly treatment to alleviate this condition. Treatments for skin cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy drugs with or without surgery, and immunotherapy (with very limited side effects). Skincare can also be important both before and after some treatments for the prevention of secondary infection or injury during the healing process due to sunburns already incurred on the treated area.
The risk of death from skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma is low, but other types of skin cancers can have a higher risk for death. Melanomas, which account for less than 1% of all reported cases annually will cause more deaths than any other type during that same timeframe (70%).
Skin cancer is particularly dangerous because it's often invisible to the naked eye. Nearly 25% of U.S. adults have one or more precancerous skin lesions that are not yet showing abnormal signs and symptoms of cancer but would be most likely to progress and become malignant if left untreated (i.e., "non-invasive" cancers). It's very important that these lesions are identified by a dermatologist before they become invasive and life-threatening, so please talk to your doctor about your own risks for skin disease at every annual checkup!
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