How is skin cancer diagnosed and treated?
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
Skin cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy, in which a sample of the skin is taken to be tested.
A biopsy can determine whether a growth is cancerous, what type of cancer it is, and how fast it may be growing.
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you may undergo additional tests, depending on what the biopsy was able to determine.
Those tests may include X-rays, a CT or MRI scan and/or an ultrasound. This would be to see whether the cancer has spread.
Your doctor may also want to do a sentinal node biopsy, to remove the lymph node closest to where a melanoma was found, and test it for cancer.
What is the treatment for skin cancer?
Treatment for skin cancer can vary drastically, depending on what type of skin cancer you have, how early it was caught, and whether or not it has spread.
Skin cancer treatment almost always involves surgery – sometimes minor (just to remove the cancer and some of the healthy skin around it), sometimes more significant (to remove both the cancer, as well as lymph nodes that may have been affected). Certain non-melanoma skin cancers can be frozen off with liquid nitrogen, or treated with a prescription cream called imiquimod (Aldara).
If surgery is not an option, you may have radiotherapy; in some cases, radiotherapy can also be part of a post-surgery treatment plan.
In cases where there is a high liklihood that the cancer will recur, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, which helps your immune system fight cancer.
If the cancer has spread, you may have to go through chemotherapy.