According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, non-melanoma skin cancer (one of the two kinds of skin cancers) is the fifth most common cancer in men and women, with over 1 million diagnoses worldwide in 2018. Additionally, Melanoma (another kind of skin cancer) is the 19th most common cancer in both men and women. In 2018, nearly 300,000 new cases were reported.
Detection of skin cancer itself is a matter of great concern. However, with the advancement of technologies both in detection and treatment, the survival rates are also increasing.
Let me introduce you, to one of our patients Christina Reeves from Gaborone, Botswana.
Christina is a 34-year-old mother of a 2-year-old daughter and wife of a caring husband Ted. Christina helps her husband in his hotel business.
Two years back, Christina noticed a small pink circle on her face. The spot didn’t hurt or itch and she thought it was just a bug bite. It was dry so she used cosmetic lotion. Even after 3 weeks, the pink circle did not get diluted at all. Christina decided to visit a dermatologist for a consultation.
Christina met a dermatologist and the doctor physically examined the spot and suggested Christina do a biopsy to be doubly sure. Christina did the biopsy test and came back home.
Reports came and the doctor called Christina to visit her. Christina went to the hospital and the doctor gave her the news that she had squamous cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer). After listening to the news both Christina and Ted both were in shock. The doctor suggested consulting an oncologist.
Christina and Ted came back home and they were disheartened after listening to the news of skin cancer. Ted’s aunt who was a nurse came to know about the cancer news and came to meet Christina and told Ted don’t take any chances and visit India for the treatment. Ted’s aunt was already in touch with MedicoExperts and gave the MedicoExperts contact details to Ted.
Ted contacted MedicoExperts and passed all information and test reports. MedicoExperts explained to Ted about the revolutionary Tumor Board approach for the treatment and arranged an online video consultation with the oncologist who was also the head of the tumor board. During the consultation, the doctor explained the treatment plan and process in detail and cleared all the doubts of Christina and Ted.
Christina and Ted decided to come to India for the treatment.
After 10 days, Christina landed in India for the treatment with Ted and her daughter. Christina got admitted to the hospital on the same day. An evaluation test was performed to check the current condition of cancer. After seeing the test reports and as per the treatment plan the surgical oncologist decided to do Mohs surgery (a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer). The surgery was successful.
A re-evaluation test was done to check the outcome of the treatment that reveals no cancer detected.
Christina and Ted were very happy with the results and thanked the doctor and MedicoExperts.
This can be your story as well to win the battle against skin cancer even if you have complex cancer. What you need is the right guidance, right treatment at the right time from the right experts.
Before we move ahead with skin cancer symptoms, stages of skin cancer, skin cancer treatment, and survival rates, let’s understand what skin cancer is.
Skin Cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells that usually grows in areas that are exposed to the sun, but in some cases, it can also occur in areas of your unexposed skin.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting exposure to UV radiation.
What are the different types of Skin Cancer?
1. Melanoma Skin Cancer
It is the most serious type of skin cancer that grows in the cells that produce melanin that gives your skin its color. It can be formed in your eyes and sometimes inside your body, such as in your nose or throat.
The cause of melanoma is not clear, but exposure to UV radiation from sunlight and tanning increases the risk of developing melanoma.
2. Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
It refers to all types of skin cancer that occur in the skin that are not melanoma. The most popular types of non-melanoma cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
a. Basal Cell Carcinoma
It is a type of skin cancer that begins in the basal cells – a type of cell in the skin that produces new skin as the old ones die.
Basal cell carcinoma often appears on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun such as the head and neck. Most of them are thought to be caused by long-term exposure to UV radiation from sunlight.
b. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
It is a form of skin cancer that grows in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layers of the skin. Though it is not life-threatening, it can be aggressive causing serious complications if left untreated.
It results from prolonged exposure to UV radiation from sunlight hence avoiding UV light exposure reduces the risk of the disease. It can be found in many places in your body wherever squamous cells are found in the skin.
Stages of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer:
The abnormal cells have not spread beyond the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin.
Cancer may have scattered to the dermis, the next layer of skin but it is less than two centimeters.
Cancer has not spread to lymph nodes but is larger than two centimeters.
Cancer has spread to nearby tissue and is larger than three centimeters.
Cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor site to lymph nodes and bone marrow and is larger than three centimeters.
Stages of Melanoma Skin Cancer
In this stage, the skin cancer has not penetrated below the epidermis.
Cancer may have spread to the dermis, the second layer of the skin.
Cancer has not spread beyond the original cancer site, but it is larger in size.
Cancer has spread to lymph nodes or nearby skin.
This is the most advanced stage of melanoma and is an indication that cancer has spread beyond the primary tumor site to lymph nodes, organs, or tissues.
1. Basal cell carcinoma symptoms
The signs of Basal cell carcinoma include:
- Sore that doesn’t cure after seven to 10 days
- Red Patch that may be itchy, or bleed easily
- Shiny bump
This usually appears on the areas of your body that are exposed to the sun. It tends to be easy to treat and grows very slowly making it less likely to spread to other organs like muscle, or bones.
2. Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms
- Scaly red patches that bleed
- Open sores that bleed and don’t cure
- Tender raised growths
It often causes intense itching which further irritates and inflames your skin. Rubbing these areas of your skin can lead to infections. If left untreated, squamous cell carcinoma can grow larger and can even spread to lymph nodes and other organs.
3. Melanoma symptoms
This is the most common type of skin cancer and most frequently develops on the women’s leg and on the chest, back, head, and neck of men. However, this type of skin cancer can be found in any part of the body including your eye.
You can use the “ABCDE” method to determine if a mole can be melanoma.
- A – asymmetrical: Cancer moles are asymmetrical which means that one-half of cancerous cells look different from the other.
- B – border: The edges of a cancerous mole will be ragged, raised, or notched in borders whereas a healthy mole should feel smooth and even.
- C – change in colour: The cancerous mole will have different colours like tan, brown, black, red, white, blue whereas a healthy mole will have a uniform colour.
- D – diameter: The cancerous mole will be larger than 6 mm about the diameter of a pencil eraser.
Both basal cell cancer and squamous skin cancer are caused by UV rays from the sun or tanning. UV rays can harm the DNA inside your skin cells causing unusual cell growth.
Squamous cell skin cancer can also develop after long-term exposure to chemicals causing cancer. It can grow within a burn scar or ulcer.
The cause of melanoma is unclear. Similar to basal and squamous cell skin cancers, melanoma can be caused by UV rays. But it can develop in parts of your body that are not exposed to sunlight.
Below are a few of the skin cancer risk factors that include:
- Family history of skin cancer
- Severe exposure to UV rays from the sun
- Exposed to certain substances like arsenic, radium, or creosote
- Vacation in sunny or warm climates
- Work outdoors often
- History of severe sunburns
- Have multiple irregular or large moles
- Have a weak immune system
During a DRE, your physician inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum to examine your prostate, which is next to the rectum. If your doctor becomes aware of any abnormalities, you may need more tests.
A handheld device known as dermoscope is used to light up and magnify lesions.
A skin tissue is taken as a sample for a lab test to check for cancer cells.
It is like an ultrasound where it uses laser light to display images of each layer of tissue without damaging the skin.
X-rays, CT scans, PET scans may be performed to determine the spread of skin cancer.
It may be done to identify patients with a family history of melanoma.
Your treatment preferences for skin cancer depend on the size, type, depth, and location of the lesions. After considering these factors, your doctor may recommend one of the following treatments:
This type may be considered for the small, well-defined primary tumour. In this, early skin cancers cells are frozen with liquid nitrogen called cryosurgery. You may need to repeat the treatment to remove the growth fully.
This type of treatment may be suitable for any type of skin cancer. Your doctor cuts the cancerous tissue and surrounding margin of healthy skin.
A powerful beam of light destroys the growth with little damage to the surrounding tissue. It may lead to bleeding, swelling, and scarring. The doctor may use this therapy to treat superficial skin cancers.
This is for larger, recurring, or difficult to treat skin cancers. It is often used in areas where it is necessary to protect as much skin as possible, such as on the nose. Your doctor removes the skin growth until no abnormal cells remain. This method has the maximum cure rate of all surgical treatments.
It uses high beams such as X-rays to kill cancer cells. It can be used when cancer cells are not completely removed during skin cancer surgery.
In this therapy, drugs are used to destroy cancer cells. If the cancer is in the top layer of the skin, then anti-cancer agents may be applied directly to the skin. It is often used for cancer cells in an arm or leg that frequently reoccur.
In this treatment, both laser and drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells.
This therapy uses your body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
After removing most of the growth, your doctor scrapes away layers of cancer cells with a circular blade called a curet. An electric needle breaks any remaining cancer cells. This method is the most widely used for removing primary basal cell carcinomas.
Treatment that doctors typically perform in different stages of cancer were
Cancer has not spread beyond the top layer of your skin at this stage. Your doctor will most likely remove cancer as well as a small area of skin around it. Wide excision surgery is the term for this procedure.
If the lesion is on your face, your doctor may suggest Mohs surgery. They’ll do this by removing thin layers of skin until they see where cancer ends. The objective is to eliminate cancer while preserving as much healthy skin as possible.
In these stages, melanomas are usually treated with wide excision surgery.
If your cancer appears to be spreading or growing quickly, your doctor may suggest a sentinel lymph node biopsy. Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found all over the body and are part of your immune system.
If the disease has spread, your surgeon will remove the lymph node that is most likely to contain cancer cells and send it to a lab for testing.
When cancer has spread to your lymph nodes but not elsewhere in your body, you are in Stage III. When it has spread to your lymph nodes and other areas, you are in Stage IV.
Surgery to remove the tumor and any affected lymph nodes is usually the first step in either case.
Other treatment options could include:
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Isolated limb perfusion (heated dose of chemotherapy)
When selecting a country for skin cancer treatment, patients must consider a number of factors, including the country’s healthcare system. Cancer is treated with advanced technologies. You should also consider the patients’ success and survival rates in the country.
The cost of treatment as well as your stay in that country. Other logistical factors to consider include flights, transportation, food, and lodging.
The United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and India have the best healthcare facilities and have the highest success and survival rates. The success rates and treatment options are nearly identical.
However, treatment costs vary by country, with the cost of treatment in developed countries being higher. If you choose India, the cost will be half or less, with no sacrifice in quality.
Melanoma survival rate
- The five-year survival rate for melanoma stages 0,1 and 2 is very high i.e., 98.4%.
- The five-year survival rate for melanoma stage 3 is 63.6%.
- The five-year survival rate for melanoma stage 4 is 22.5%.
Basal cell and squamous cell survival rate
Both cancers have a very high survival rate. The five-year survival rate for basal cell carcinoma is 100% and for squamous cell carcinoma is 95%.
Choosing an oncologist is a big decision, and there are a few things a patient should think about before making a decision.
Consider using a multidisciplinary approach to achieve the highest success and survival rates. This means that each patient is counseled by different cancer specialists this is also known as the tumor board approach. The tumor board consists of surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and well-trained oncology staff.
Many patients around the world got benefitted from this MedicoExperts tumor board approach.
You should choose a cancer hospital with a reputation for treating all types of cancer. To treat all types of cancers and provide the highest level of care, a well-known cancer hospital is equipped with cutting-edge technology and employs the best and most experienced doctors, including medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists.
The hospital must have a successful track record with high survival rates.
The above criteria were used to create the MedicoExperts panel.
One can easily find low-cost treatment for skin cancer in India along with quality services as compared to other western countries.
- The cost of Mohs surgery costs around $2500 – $3000(185930 – 223116 INR) in India.
- Cryosurgery costs around $3500 – $4000(260302 – 297488 INR) in India.
- Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy cost around $2500 – $3000 (185930 – 223116 INR) in India.
Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:
Is Skin Cancer deadly?
Melanoma is deadly when it occurs but can be cured if detected at an early stage.
Does Skin Cancer Itch?
Skin cancer may itch, bleed, or even hurt once it has grown larger.
Can Skin Cancer go away by itself?
Melanoma on the skin can go away on its own since the body’s immune system can attack the disease.
How fast does skin cancer spread?
Melanoma spreads quickly in 6 weeks and if untreated can spread to other parts of the body. It appears on the skin that is not even exposed to the sun.
At what age does skin cancer typically occur?
Most nonmelanoma cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas appear after age 50.
Is skin cancer curable?
Skin cancers can be treated. However, one must be aware of their symptoms and report them to their physician. This can assist with early detection and treatment.
Can I prevent skin cancer?
There are a few things you can do to lower your chances of getting skin cancer:
- Avoid UV Exposure
- Choose clothing that covers your arms, leg and neck can wear a hat and sunglasses
- Protect yourself with sunscreen
- Say No to artificial tanning
- Self-skin exam
MedicoExperts is a Global virtual hospital which is established to offer quality healthcare services at affordable pricing without compromising the success rates of the treatment. MedicoExperts is having a network of highly experienced super specialist doctors and well equipped hospitals across the globe and offering second opinion through online video consultation and surgical interventions through its empanelled super specialist doctors at its network hospitals in 17 countries from 3 continents.
By the virtue of its approach and model, MedicoExperts is successfully achieve to deliver
- Latest and most advanced treatments with success rates of international benchmarks.
- Multiple cost options depending upon the hospital facilities, with the same doctor.
- Treatment option in multiple cities/state/countries.
- Trust and peace of mind.
Most suitable for patients who are looking for:-
- Planned Surgeries and treatment from most experienced doctors and at multiple cost options as per hospital facilities with best possible outcomes.
- Second Opinion from expert doctors.
- Complex cases involving multi specialities
- International patients looking for treatment from Indian doctors