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Different Stages of Skin Cancer
- Skin cancer is one of the easiest forms of cancer to prevent and treat, but the severity of treatment forms depend on catching it early, making it important to understand the first signs of skin cancer, skin cancer warning signs, and skin cancer detection
- There are three types of skin cancer that can develop: squamous cell skin cancer, basal cell skin cancer and melanoma skin cancer
- A skin cancer screening, or biopsy in some cases, is required to determine the developmental stage of the cancer in order to diagnosis it and begin treatment
Skin cancer is one of the fastest growing forms of cancer in much of the world. Although skin cancer is always one of the easiest forms of the disease to treat, the effectiveness of those treatments depends on how early the disease is caught. Skin cancer treatments can be less radical when the cancer is only in its early stages. Below you’ll find information about the different stages of skin cancer.
Non-melanoma Skin Cancer Stages
Three types of skin cancer are possible: squamous, basal, and melanoma. Because melanoma is a more aggressive form of skin cancer, its stages are different from those of squamous and basal skin cancer.
With those two types of cancer, stages are identified as 0 to IV. At Stage 0, the abnormal cells can be found in the epidermis, but they have not yet progressed to full-blown cancer. By Stage I, the cells have found a location in the surrounding tissue and have started mass producing cells which form a small tumor. During this stage, the tumor is about the size of a unshelled peanut or smaller (approx. 2 centimeters). When the tumor grows larger than 2 centimeters, the skin cancer is said to have gone into Stage II.
Beyond Stage II, the cancer is more serious. In Stage III, the abnormal cells have spread into the tissue underneath the skin. The cells may be present in the cartilage, bone, muscle, or even lymph nodes. Treatment at this stage can be difficult. Finally, when the cancer reaches Stage IV that means it has spread into other parts of the body, such as the lungs.
How are Skin Cancer Stages Determined?
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, your physician will need to do staging – the process of figuring out how advanced the cancer has become in your body. The most common way to conduct staging is by doing a biopsy of the tumor and the surrounding tissue. If the cancer cells are found outside the tumor, the staging will be hired because it shows the cancer is spreading into other parts of the body.
Staging is usually done very early on after diagnosis because it will determine the type of treatment that needs to be done. For example, Stages I and II can usually be treated by removing the tumor. Doctors may recommend some radiation treatments to kill off any rogue cancer cells left behind in the tissue but usually removal is sufficient.
With Stage III cancer, more aggressive treatments, including removal of the tumor, affected tissue, and other parts of the body affected by the cancer, as well as chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments will be ordered. With Stage IV, treatment depends on where the cancer has spread.
Skin Cancer Prevention
While the idea of skin cancer stages can be scary, the best way not to have to worry about them is by taking steps to prevent skin cancer from happening to you. That includes minimizing your exposure to the skin and using sun screens when you are outdoors for long periods of time. Watching for changes in your skin and detecting abnormal growths early is also the best way to stop the disease from progressing into these later and more dangerous stages.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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