Skin cancer awareness month has just ended, but prevention and open dialogue about it are the keys to reducing its impact on everyone’s life.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. America is the third country worldwide to have the most non-melanoma skin cancer incidence with more than 500,000 diagnoses each year. Basal cell carcinoma patients rise to 3.6 million diagnosed each year in the U.S alone. Therefore, prevention and early detection play a key role in these metrics’ reduction.
Most skin cancers appear in areas with more sun exposure: the face, chest, back, arms, and legs. Even though skin cancer prevention and early diagnosis is primarily a matter of self-care, sometimes the symptoms can be overlooked because it’s difficult to keep track of every spot or mole a person has on their body, or because they can be confused with other skin conditions like eczema, rosacea or even acne.
Inflammatory skin conditions can make for a difficult diagnosis when it comes to skin cancer, for instance, eczema produces redness and plaques on the skin, which, over time, thicken and form nodules, producing itchiness. Psoriasis has very similar symptoms but can also include pustules on hands and feet; psoriasis and eczema structurally resemble each other, making it difficult to diagnose accurately each, also, this symptomatology can delay a skin cancer diagnosis when not treated by a dermatologist, mostly because of inflammation and scaling.
In addition to that, if psoriasis or eczema patients develop skin cancer, the treatment must be closely looked upon. Cancerous skin excision might lead to complications, bacterial infections, and a very slow wound healing process due to medication changes, like corticosteroids suppression, or radiation treatments.
Another important inflammatory condition is rosacea, affecting 16 million Americans it’s the most common skin condition to find. Its symptoms are mostly located on the face and include redness, visible blood vessels, and bumps. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma can look very similar or be masked by rosacea. Multiple surgeries might need to be performed because the inflammatory cells might obscure the cancerous cells, which is a reason for recurrence.
PREVENTION AND AWARENESS
All these conditions require topical treatments and medication that can improve the skin’s condition but as chronic diseases, they can’t be cured. Only a dermatologist can help effectively in this process, and it is the professional that can spot an abnormal mark or inflammatory process and give it the correct follow-up. It is important to remember that having these skin conditions does not make the probability of developing cancer higher, but it can make the diagnosis process more difficult.