There are several options available for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. The following are the normal procedures employed to determine whether a patient has skin cancer:
Skin examination by a qualified individual to check for bumps or spots that may look unusual in terms of color, size, shape, or texture.
A pathological examination (biopsy) procedure on a portion of the abnormal-looking growth to determine the presence of cancer cells. This can be accomplished in any of 3 methods: shave biopsy wherein a surgical razor is used to shave-off parts of the suspected growth; punch biopsy wherein an instrument called a trephine is used to remove a circle of tissue from the growth and excisional biopsy wherein the entire growth is removed surgically with the use of a scalpel.
Treatment and recovery of skin cancer depends significantly on the conditions or stage of the cancer, there is no sure fire method of treating and managing skin cancer as each case is unique to the individual and is also influenced by factors such as the type of the cancer, location and size of the tumor (whether it has metastasized or not) and the patients overall health and physical condition.
In the traditional method of treatment, there are four options available.
Surgery: There are various surgical procedures employed for the treatment of the non-melanoma type of skin cancer.
For superficial skin cancer Mohs micrographic surgery is the most common procedure wherein the tumor is gradually incised from the affected area of the skin in very thin layers and examined microscopically to verify the presence or absence of cancer cells. The procedure continues until the presence of cancer cells is negative.
Simple excision is the surgical removal of a tumor including some of the surrounding skin tissues.
Shaving the surface of the affected skin area with a surgical blade.
Cutting the tumor from the skin with a sharp tool resembling a small spoon and then treating the edges of the immediate area of the cut with electrical current to stop and control bleeding and destroy remaining cancer cells.
Another option is cryosurgery whereby the abnormal tissues are destroyed through freezing.
Using laser to cut affected skin tissue or remove malignant tumor.
Removal of the top layer of skin using a sander-type tool or skin defoliants to remove affected skin cells.
Radiation: Radiation cancer treatment therapy is the use of x-rays or radiation to destroy cancer cells. These can either be external by using a machine outside of the body or internal by introducing radioactive elements into or near the affected area.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to control the spread of cancer cells in the body. It can either be applied topically as a cream or lotion, orally or by intravenous and/or intramuscular injection into the patients vein or muscle.
Photodynamic Therapy: The use of drugs in combination with laser to destroy cancer cells. The drug is injected into the patients vein and remains inactive until it is subjected to laser via fiber optic tubes at which time it becomes active and kills the cancer cells.
There is one thing in common with all of the above mentioned traditional treatment options for skin cancer they are generally invasive.
Although there is nothing wrong with the methodology, alternative methods of skin cancer treatment, which are now gaining acceptance in the West, espouse a holistic approach in the treatment of skin cancer or an illness. A holistic approach is geared towards the mental, physical and emotion aspects of the patient and not just the physical symptoms of the illness.
They proceed from the premise that an individual gets sick simply because his immune system is weak and can not fight the virus that attacks the system. For treatment to be successful, it is therefore necessary to strengthen a persons immune system including emotional and physical resources in order to combat threats to the body.
In the traditional model of Western medicine, once skin cancer is diagnosed and determined the only acceptable form of treatment is the clinical model. However, a study of the alternative approaches to prevention and treatment reveal that in consonance with the traditional method both can be very effective in treating advanced skin cancer.
Medical experts are aware that certain minerals and antioxidant vitamins that can be derived from fruits and vegetables help repair damaged body tissues and promote the regeneration of healthy skin.
Now, medical practitioners are advocating the use of alternative methods of skin cancer prevention and treatment through a healthy diet and active lifestyle in order to protect individuals from the harmful effects of sunlight the number one factor directly related to skin cancer development.
An active and healthy lifestyle and regular exercise is necessary in order to combat skin cancer since even stress cause the weakening of the immune system which then makes individuals more prone to sickness.
With proper exercise such as yoga, tai chi, running and even acupuncture, the bodys immune system can be made stronger even if skin cancer is already at an advanced stage.
Coupled with a healthy and nutritious diet, individuals stand a better chance to fight skin cancer and strengthen the immune system to fight off the malignant cancer cells.
One of the more promising discoveries is the effect of green tea towards skin cancer. Taken orally or applied topically, green tea shows a striking effect on the skin in relation to cancer and carcinogens because it is a natural antioxidant. Green tea antioxidants (medical term green tea polyphenols) show a remarkable ability to prevent and inhibit the growth of various types of skin cancers from basal cell carcinoma to melanoma in tests carried out on animals and human patients.
However, those already suffering from skin cancer should never self medicate. It is good practice to consult with your doctor regarding the use of traditional and alternative form of treatments since there may be an interference effect between the two when taken together. Discussing any alternative treatment options with your cancer doctor ensures faster recovery and future prevention.