(Basal or Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma)
Although essential for vitamin D production, excess sun is the major villain for the appearance of at least two of the three types of skin cancer.
The most common and least aggressive is basal cell carcinoma, which mainly affects light people, who, instead of tanned, get burned when exposed without protection from ultraviolet rays. This type of tumor originates from the basal layer of cells, is slow growing and rarely spreads, although it can reach tissues around the affected area and destroy cartilage and bones. It manifests through wounds that do not heal and bleed easily in the event of minor contact and trauma.
The second most common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinomas, develops in the cells of the outermost layer, the epidermis. Growth is faster, with a high chance of metastasis, and reaching lymph nodes and other organs. It is also known as squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma types affect 25% of skin cancer patients in Brazil.
Melanoma is the third type and the most aggressive skin cancer. Originally from melanin-producing cells, which are the pigments that define skin color, it is not exclusively related to overexposure to the sun. The tumor may appear on the healthy skin surface or develop from preexisting lesions, with changes in size, color and texture, including permanently protected parts.
It affects light-skinned women and men in the same proportion, and most often appears on the torso, legs and ears. It is a cancer with lower incidence compared to others, but it is more dangerous and lethal.
Melanoma has a great capacity to generate metastases, as it multiplies inordinately and falls into the bloodstream, reaching the brain and heart. Its lesions have jagged edges and color change, itching or ulcers.
The rule named “ABCDE” allows the analysis of pre-melanoma lesions and is useful for keeping an eye out for the slightest signs of changes. In this rule, each letter refers to one of the characteristics of the suspicious mark or sign, which should be reported and checked by dermatologists.
The “A” corresponds to asymmetry. It is a warning because some early forms of melanoma are asymmetric i.e. if an imaginary line is drawn in the middle of the dot, no two similar halves appear.
The “B” is a warning to the edges, because melanoma has irregular edges, with protrusions and recesses.
The letter “C” refers to the color of the blotch or suspicious sign, as melanomas typically vary in tone – this is the 1st most used sign to identify melanoma.
Finally, the “D” corresponds to the diameter and will give an idea of the size of the blotch. Common nevi do not exceed 6mm in diameter, whereas early melanomas tend to be larger.
Protecting against the sun’s rays, using sunscreen daily and avoiding times of higher incidence of lightning, is still the best prevention against skin cancer.
At the slightest suspicion of skin changes, dermatologists should be consulted for accurate diagnosis and initiation of care, treatment and follow-up.
WHAT DR. OTAVIO MACEDO & ASSOCIATES OFFERS:
The OM&A Clinic offers its patients the latest resources for skin cancer prevention, treatment and monitoring. There is state-of-the-art equipment and up-to-date techniques that, for effective results, can be used singly or in combination, according to customized treatment plans that utilize resources and techniques, as listed below.
Clinical Dermatology > Skin Cancer
By allowing the analysis of pigmented skin lesions, detecting structures invisible to the naked eye, Dermatoscopy helps in the diagnosis of skin cancer. It allows early detection of melanoma and other cancers, as well as monitoring for suspicious lesions.
Clinical Dermatology > Skin Cancer
Photodynamic therapy device with soothing LEDs. It has anti-inflammatory effect and acts without affecting the surrounding tissues.
Recommended to treat actinic keratosis (precancerous lesion) and some cancers with superficial lesions (Bowen’s disease and superficial basal cell carcinoma). Photodynamic therapy works by combining two types of agents, which add together: photosensitizing substances are determined on the one hand, and appropriate light source irradiation on the other.
For this specific treatment, a photosensitizing substance methyl aminolevulinate (or aminolevulinic acid) is used. Applied to the lesion, it remains there for 3 hours. During this time, the product is absorbed by precancerous or already skin cancer cells, which have high metabolism, while healthy skin cells do not.
Metabolic reactions occur from there and the affected cells become sensitive to light. The skin is then exposed to the proper light source, which will cause the destruction of sensitized cells without affecting the others. This is how treatment destroys only actinic keratosis cells and cancer cells. Healthy cells are not damaged.
This treatment is only effective on lesions up to 2 mm thick, which are the most superficial. In other types of basal cell carcinoma, photodynamic therapy is not the best treatment.
Post-treatment: Remains very visible for 7 days.
Protocol: 1 or 2 sessions.
Result: Healing of the lesions.