The skin is the body's largest organ, providing protection against heat, sunlight, injury and infection. When prolonged or unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays has occurred, a person is at higher risk for developing skin cancer. Currently there are three different types of skin cancer known:
- basal cell carcinoma
- squamous cell carcinoma
All together skin cancer is currently the most common form of cancer, afflicting more than one million Americans every year. From that number approximately 8,000 to 9,000 are terminal and about 7,500 of those fatalities are from melanoma.
Skin cancer risk factors
Skin cancer can develop because of several reasons, the most common ones being:
- exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays: besides an increased risk of cancer, prolonged exposure can lead to the premature aging of the skin
- having a fair skin: people who tan slowly and burn easily have higher chances of developing skin cancer
- genetic predisposition: if there is a history of skin cancer in the family, other members can develop the condition as well
- aging: the cumulative exposure to sun and the weakened immune system increases the risk of cancer, as the body can no longer efficiently destroy abnormal cells
Despite warnings about the dangers of spending extended amount of time in the sun without protecting the skin, many young Americans continue to tan. While people should not be afraid of the sun or worry constantly about skin cancer, people must be aware that serious consequences can result. There are ways of easily reducing risk, including always using a sunscreen, wearing a hat and shirt, and sitting in the shade whenever possible.
Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
Skin cancer reconstructive surgery can be an integral component of skin cancer treatment. Over one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and one in five adults will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. One third to one half of all new cancer diagnoses are skin cancer.
Skin cancer reconstructive surgery can help to restore the form and function to the affected area once the cancerous cells have been removed. There are a variety of types of skin cancer that a patient can develop that may later require skin cancer reconstructive surgery.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. If left untreated, it can cause extensive damage. Squamous cell carcinoma most often affects the skin of the lips, face, and ears: locations where skin cancer reconstructive surgery can be most advantageous. Malignant melanoma is less common but it is the most dangerous type of skin cancer that, if left untreated, can prove fatal.
Skin cancer is often treated by removing the cancerous cells from the body. When the cancerous area is small, a doctor can typically remove the tissues under a local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. Curettage and desiccation is a skin cancer removal technique that uses electrical current to scrape away cancerous tissues. The scars from these procedures are typically minor, though skin cancer reconstructive surgery procedures may be beneficial.
Larger and more extensive areas of skin cancer require more involved procedures and potentially reconstructive surgery as part of the overall treatment. These procedures may also precede treatments like radiation, chemotherapy and cryosurgery.
The purpose of skin cancer reconstructive surgery is to repair damaged tissues, rebuild body parts, and restore form and function to the areas affected by skin cancer. Skin cancer reconstructive surgery can range from scar revision, micodermabrasion, and laser resurfacing all the way to rebuilding compromised body structures such as the ears, nose, eyelids, or lips.
There are many ways to prevent skin cancer and many treatment options to manage or obliterate the development of this pervasive cancer. Skin cancer reconstructive surgery can be an integral part of the treatment plan to restore health to the victims of skin cancer.