The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least aggressive form of skin cancer; it rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma is a slightly less common, but more aggressive skin cancer; if not treated early on, it can spread to other tissues and or be ans Melanoma is the fastest-growing and most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma originates in the body’s pigment cells and spreads inward into internal tissues and organs. Melanoma can occur on any skin surface: face, back, arms, palms, soles of feet, toes, and mucous membranes.
While many people think of skin cancer as a superficial, non-threatening disease, it has the potential to metastasize to surrounding tissue or be carried by blood or the lymphatic system to internal organs. Fortunately, if it is detected early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
Ultraviolet light plays a primary role in most cases of skin cancer. People with a fair complexion, light eyes, blonde or red hair, or many freckles are at increased risk. One or more incidences of severe sunburn during childhood also greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult.
Signs and Symptoms
The general warning signs of skin cancer are: change in the color, size, or shape of a mole or a wound that does not heal. Following are the signs and symptoms of the three most common types of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Pearly or waxy flesh-colored bump, usually on the face, ear, or neck
- Flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, usually on the chest or back
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Firm, red, wart-like nodule with a scaly or crusted surface, usually on face, ears, neck, hands, or arms
- Flat lesion with scaly or crusted surface that sometimes ulcerates, usually on face, ears, neck, hands, or arms
- Dark bump anywhere on the skin that is changing in size
- A mole or dark spot of skin that is asymmetrical in shape and has irregular borders
- A new or existing growth that bleeds and does not heal
Conventional Medical Treatment
At least once a month, check your skin for any changes in existing moles or for the presence of new moles. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, see your physician or a dermatologist. To diagnose skin cancer, your dermatologist conducts a physical examination. A biopsy of the affected skin may be necessary to confirm diagnosis. Your doctor also may order an X-ray or CAT scan to determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
If a skin growth is determined to be cancerous or precancerous, surgery is usually required to remove the affected tissue. If the cancer has spread to surrounding skin or muscle, those tissues may have to be removed as well. There are a number of Surgical procedures used to treat skin cancer, Including laser therapy, cryosurgery (freezing the area with liquid nitrogen), or Mohs’ chemosurgery (where one layer of tissue is removed at a time). In some cases, immunotherapy, topical chemotherapy, or radiation therapy are used after surgery.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
Nutrition and Supplementation
You need a low-fat, high-antioxidant diet filled with foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, and citrus fruits. Avoid direct sunlight and never, ever visit tanning booths.
The following daily supplements should help treat your skin. This list is not all-inclusive; consult with a medical expert for an individualized treatment plan.
- dimethylglycine (as directed on label)-improves cellular oxygenation
- coenzyme (100 mg)-improves cellular-oxygenation
- essential fatty acids (as directed on label, 3 times daily before meals)-protects cells
- proteolytic enzymes (as directed on label)-free radical scavengers that reduce inflammation
- selenium (200 mcg)-protects against UV damage
- vitamin A (50,000 to 100,000 IU for 10 days; do not exceed 8000 IU daily if you are pregnant)-destroys free radicals; use emulsion form for best assimilation
- mixed carotenoid formula (15,000 IU)-carotenoids are precursors of vitamin A
- vitamin B complete (100 mg)-required for cell division and function
- vitamin C with bioflavonoids (5000 to 20,000 mg in divided doses)-a potent anti-cancer agent
- vitamin E (up to 1000 IU)-promotes healing and tissue repair; use emulsion form (Consult your health care provider regarding the duration of treatment.)
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture Although acupuncture is not effective in the treatment of skin cancer itself, it is very helpful in alleviating the headaches, nausea, and lethargy that often accompany traditional treatment methods, such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Acupressure This modality may prove useful in improving the energy level and outlook of people suffering from skin cancer, and it can certainly be helpful in alleviating discomfort caused by the disease itself or by aggressive medical treatments.
Chinese Herbal Therapy Many Chinese herbs have been proven effective against skin cancer. Aloe vera, meanwhile, has been shown to have a protective effect against radiation-induced skin disturbances (a troubling side effect of conventional cancer treatment).
Scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles found that garlic extract inhibited the growth of melanoma cells by more than 50 percent, and that it actually caused the diseased cells to revert back to their healthy, precancerous state. Many other studies have also shown the garlic is a potent remedy for skin cancer as we as a possible deterrent.
Herbalists also may advocate Gentiana Formula and Dang Dui and Arctium Combination to help skin heal faster. Japanese wax privet 15 known to enhance immunity and counteract the gastrointestinal ravages of chemotherapy and radiation.