There has been increase in skin cancer prevalence worldwide. In the U.S., skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Skin cancer is mainly of three types: melanoma, basal cell cancer, and squamous cell carcinoma. Out of these three skin cancers, melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanoma is less common than the other two types of skin cancer. Other less common skin cancers include Merkel cell carcinoma, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and keratoacanthoma. Paget's disease in the skin of the breast, spindle cell carcinoma, and angiosarcoma are some rare skin cancers.
Melanoma develops in melanocytes (cells linked with pigmentation) in the skin. Melanoma is also known as malignant melanoma and cutaneous melanoma. Some genetic syndromes are also linked with melanoma-type skin cancer. One of the main signs of melanoma is change in the size or shape of the moles in the body. The chest and back in men, and the legs in women are the main sites affected by melanoma. Overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun is considered as one of the main causes of most skin cancers.
Melanoma is categorized in the following stages: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and recurrent melanoma. Stage 0 is limited to epidermis and is cured with surgical treatment. In Stage 1, surgical treatment along with interferon is recommended. Stage 2 is managed with surgical treatment and lymph node removal. For Stage 3, surgical removal of melanoma, lymph node removal, and chemotherapy are planned. Stage 4 treatment is very difficult and is done with surgery, radiation, and targeted chemotherapy. Early treatment can increase the survival rates in melanoma. Chemotherapy means use of drugs that can kill cancerous cells. Chemotherapy is actually the last option in advance melanoma treatment.
In most of the skin cancers, treatment involves only surgical removal of the tumor. Treatment of other skin cancers is dependent on the type of skin cancer, the size of the tumor, age of patient, etc. Surgical treatment is mainly useful in basal cell skin cancer in young people, while in the elderly treatment with radiation therapy is best. Radiation and chemotherapy generally do not work well for melanoma. Local chemotherapy treatment over the skin is also done in certain skin cancers. Chemotherapy is resorted to, after immunotherapy and targeted drugs fail to achieve desired results. Many drugs like dacarbazine, paclitaxel, and cisplatin can be administered in chemotherapy. A specialized chemotherapy, known as isolated limb perfusion, is popularly being used in modern day treatment methods.
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