Is Skin Cancer Curable?

 “Is Skin Cancer Curable?”


Cancer is caused by healthy cells that shift and develop out of control, resulting in a tumor. Skin cancer is described as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, as a result of unrestored DNA damage that causes mutations. These mutations cause skin cells to replicate exponentially, resulting in cancerous tumors. The following are the most common forms of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • Melanoma
  • Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC)


The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and the use of UV tanning beds are the two major sources of skin cancer. The good news is that if skin cancer is detected early, it can be treated with little to no scarring and a high chance of being completely removed. The doctor can also spot the development at a precancerous level, before it develops into a full-fledged skin cancer or has entered the below the skin surface.

Prevalence of Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the 19th most prevalent cancer in both men and women. In 2018, approximately 300,000 new cases were reported. With over 1 million diagnoses globally in 2018, non-melanoma skin cancer is the 5th most prevalent cancer in men and women. Since most cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are incompletely treated via surgery or ablation, non-melanoma skin cancer is either not monitored by cancer registries, or registrations of this cancer are often incomplete. Furthermore, many cancer cases go unnoticed or unrecorded.

Skin cancers, including non-melanoma and melanoma, have been more common in recent decades. Per year, about 2 to 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur worldwide, and one out of every three tumors diagnosed is skin cancer. (Skin Cancer Foundation statistics)

A 10% reduction in ozone levels is expected to result in a further 300,000 non-melanoma and 4,500 melanoma skin cancer cases. Caucasian populations have a much greater incidence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers than dark-skinned populations due to their relative lack of skin pigmentation. Brown and ark-skinned people will normally handle moderate amounts of sun exposure without being sunburned or significantly raising their chance of skin cancer. People with pale or freckled skin, fair or red hair, and blue eyes, on the other hand, are at the greatest risk. Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of both melanoma and non-melanoma cancer. In 2020, there was an unprecedented 1.2 million new nonmelanoma cancer cases and almost 0.1 million nonmelanoma deaths globally.

Can Skin Cancer be Cured?

The chances of surviving skin cancer differs based on the type of cancer. If not detected early, some forms of skin cancer may be fatal, while others have a low mortality risk. The prognosis, or survival rate, for skin cancer is determined by the type of cancer and its stage at the time of diagnosis. The sooner you are diagnosed with skin cancer, the higher your chances are of a successful treatment. When cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it becomes more difficult to treat.

Survival rates of Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a cancer that is fatal when it has spread, but it can be cured if caught early. According to the Melanoma Research Alliance, the five-year survival rate for melanoma stages 0-1 and 2 is 98.4%. Melanoma in stage 3 has a 63.6% five-year survival record. For stage 4 melanoma, it's 22.5%.

According to the American Cancer Society, Merkel cell stages 0, 1, and 2 have a 78% five-year survival record. Phase 3 has a 51% success rate, while stage 4 has a 17% success rate.

Lower-risk skin cancers include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. The cure rate for these two forms of cancer is very high. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, basal cell carcinoma has a 100% five-year survival record. Squamous cell carcinoma has a 95% five-year survival record.

Treatment of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can be treated by a variety of methods. The treatment option is determined by the tumor's size and location, as well as the cancer's microscopic features and the patient's overall health.

  1. Topical Medications

Some creams, gels, and liquids can be used to treat superficial basal cell carcinomas, such as imiquimod (Aldara), which stimulates the immune system to develop interferon, which destroys the cancer, and fluorouracil (5-FU), a chemotherapy medication. Some patients experience no side effects from these topical therapies, while others may experience redness, inflammation, and irritation. The disadvantage of topical treatments is that there is no skin to test to see whether a tumor has been entirely destroyed.

  1. Electrodessication and curettage (EDC)

A local anesthetic is used to numb the tumor region, which is then scraped repeatedly with a sharp instrument (curette) and the tip is cauterized with an electric needle. This method has the advantage of being fast, easy, and inexpensive. The drawbacks are that the scar is always unsightly and that the recurrence risk can be as high as 15%.

  1. Surgical excision

A local anesthetic is used to numb the area surrounding the tumor. The tumor and a fragment of tissue are then removed, and the wound margins are sutured closed. Skin grafts or flaps are used to close the defect in very large tumors. The benefits of this method of therapy include a recovery rate of more than 90%, the ability to inspect the surgical specimen to ensure that the whole tumor is properly removed, and a scar that is typically more cosmetically appropriate than the EDC procedure. It is a more time-consuming and costly process than EDC.

  1. Mohs micrographic surgery

The surgeon anesthetizes the area before removing the apparent tumor with a small margin of natural tissue. The tissue is inspected under a microscope right away, and any regions that show microscopic tumor presence are re-excised and the margins re-examined. This will continue until no further tumors are visible. This more difficult and costly option is the treatment of choice for tumors where normal tissue preservation is critical, tumor margins are incorrectly described, tumors that have been already treated and recurred, and some high-risk tumors.

  1. Radiation therapy

A heavy dose of radiation is delivered to the tumor and a tiny adjacent skin region over the course of ten to fifteen sessions. This method of treatment is beneficial for those who are not surgical candidates. Radiation treatment has the bonus of not requiring much cutting. The drawbacks of this costly option include the inability to inspect the treated region to ensure that the entire tumor has been removed and the appearance of radiation scars as time passes. As a result, it is usually reserved for older patients.

  1. Some other remedies for skin cancer are Cryosurgery, in which tissue is frozen and removed, photodynamic therapy (PDT), in which drugs and blue light are used to kill cancerous tissue, laser surgery to vaporize (ablate) the skin's top layer to destroy tumors, and oral therapies vismodegib (Erivedge) and sonidegib (Odomzo).

Can Skin Cancer be Prevented?

Many skin cancers can be avoided by staying away from the things that allow tumors to form. Sunscreen use, protective clothing, and avoiding exposure to the sun from peak hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. are effective prevention measures. Parents should make sure their children are sun-protected. Using tanning beds sparingly, since they are a big source of excessive ultraviolet light radiation and an important risk factor for skin cancer.

In conclusion, Skin cancer can spread quickly and become life-threatening if not treated promptly, depending on the form. If you find any new growths on the skin or notice modifications to a current mole, lump, or birthmark, see the doctor. Skin cancer is highly curable, but only if detected early.


Sources:

  1. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/

  2. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/skin-cancer-non-melanoma/introduction

  3. https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/skin-cancer-statistics/#:~:text=Non%2Dmelanoma%20skin%20cancer%20is,estimating%20incidence%20for%20several%20reasons.

  4. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/radiation-ultraviolet-(uv)-radiation-and-skin-cancer

  5. https://www.wcrj.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2019/04/e1265-Global-incidence-and-mortality-of-skin-cancer-by-histological-subtype-and-its-relationship-with-the-Human-Development-Index-HDI-an-ecology-study-in-2018.pdf

  6. https://www.medicinenet.com/skin_cancer_overview/article.htm

  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/can-you-die-from-skin-cancer#survival-rates




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