10. PTC: Cancer Types: Skin
Updated: 1/31/2020 JMG
"If you see something on your skin that is new, changing, not healing or doesn’t seem right, get it checked out as soon as possible"
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
All transplant patients are at increased risk to develop skin cancer. However, transplant patients with the following characteristics are at greater risk for skin cancer. These characteristics include:
• Older individuals
• Fair and easily burned skin
• Freckled skin
• Blue, green or hazel eyes
• Red and blonde hair
• People who have outdoor occupations or extensive exposure to the sun
• Family history of skin cancer
• Personal history of skin cancer
How quickly does skin cancer develop after organ transplant?
The majority of fair-skinned organ transplant patients will eventually develop skin cancer. After a transplant, there is generally a lag time of 3-7 years before skin cancers begin to develop. This period of time may vary depending upon individual risk factors. The longer a person takes immunosuppressant medications and the higher the dose, the greater the risk of skin cancer. In temperate climates 40% of fair-skinned patients develop skin cancer within 20 years after transplantation. In warmer climates, up to 80% of fair-skinned patients develop skin cancer within 20 years after transplant.
For a quick photo introduction of what to look out for, link to this simple 7-slide view of skin cancer signs and symptoms (<-- just click here)
For more details, see the ITNS link below to their downloadable Skin Cancer booklet.
If caught early, skin cancers are almost always curable. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas can be treated with a variety of methods including scraping and freezing for early skin cancers and surgical removal for more advanced cancers.
Melanoma is treated by surgically removing the growth. Mohs micrographic surgery is a special surgical procedure used to ensure the complete removal of a skin cancer, while sparing normal skin. Although the surgical removal of skin cancers inevitably leaves scars, appearance can usually be restored to a high degree after skin surgery.
There is more than one type of skin cancer
Skin cancer is simply an abnormal growth of skin cells and while they can all hurt your health, most aren't deadly, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Melanoma is the one people most often hear about but it's far more common to get actinic keratoses (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Melanoma is the number one cancer killer in younng adults
The other types aren't great for you either
Just because AK, BCC, and SCC aren't normally deadly, doesn't mean you shouldn't worry about them. People with squamous cell carcinoma have a higher risk of death from any cause than the general population, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. About 4,140 people will die from skin cancers other than melanoma in the United States this year, they add.
How to spot skin cancer
Click on the image below to view this article by the American Cancer Society:
Your risk of getting it is almost entirely under your control
Skin cancer is the most preventable and yet the most ignored cancer, Dr. Barr says. In fact, taking a few simple preventive measures can lower your lifetime risk of getting any type of skin cancer by nearly 80 percent, according to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays raise also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand and snow
The CDC recommends easy options for protection from UV radiation:
- Stay in the shade, especially during the midday hours
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears and neck
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around block both UVA and UVB rays
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB broad spectrum) protection
- Avoid indoor tanning