Skin Cancer : Prevention, Treatment & Care


  Prevention & Care


Dealing with a Skin Cancer Diagnosis

A skin cancer diagnosis can be truly frightening. Cancer is a word that is too closely associated with death. Times are changing this. Skin cancer in particular, have a much better prognosis on average, when compared to other types of cancer.

So the first comforting thing to know is that skin cancer has one of the highest cure rates. If caught at an early stage, and many are, the survival rate can be as high as 99%. So the first advice is not to panic.

When you visit your doctor again, we suggest that you have a family member, a loved one, or a friend that you can confide with, come in and support you on your next visit. Additionally, write down the questions that you want to ask your physician. Here are some suggested questions:

What kind of skin cancer is it, and what is my prognosis?

Not all skin cancers are the same. Some cancers are far more dangerous than others. Be clear about where you stand. It can be frightening to ask, but it is important that you understand the situation in context. Know that most skin cancers can be cured simply by removing the visible skin cancer and the margins that surround the cancer to ensure that none are left. At this stage, your doctor may perform biopsies or other tests to confirm that it is skin cancer. Remember to ask lots of questions, and don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion. First, doctors are not offended when you ask for a second opinion - it is part of their jobs to provide this, and they understand that they are not immune to error. Second, it is your life, and you should do your best to protect it. If a very good doctor was correct 99% of the time, and he has treated thousands of patients, statistically, he or she should have erred in at least some of his or her decisions.

This doesn't mean that the doctor was not very good, but getting a confirmation via a second opinion by a doctor that is correct 95% of the time would make it far less likely that there was an error.

Are there any alternative treatments, and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Discuss your treatment options carefully with your physician, and remember to be thorough in asking questions. At the minimum you will want to know the costs, insurance coverage, expectation, and how long the recovery will take. You may also want to know about whether the procedure will leave scars, or any other side-effects. Understand that skin cancer is a very serious and potentially fatal disease, and that you should be seeking the best treatment that you can find.

What can I do now to increase the odds that I will be cured?

The most important thing is to communicate well with your doctor. Make sure that you are following any treatment regimens accurately, and check up with your doctor often. Live a healthy lifestyle-eat and drink well, exercise, and sleep well. Remember to protect yourself from the sun. Stay in the shade, and remember to apply sunscreen on a regular basis. Once you are cured, remember to check up periodically with your doctor.

Cancer patients have a significantly higher than average chance of developing a new and unrelated cancer compared to those that have never had cancer.

Exactly, how am I doing, and what do you know about my situation

Remember to keep communication lines open with your doctor. It can be scary to ask for a prognosis, but it is important that you understand your situation clearly. It may help to have another person, perhaps a family member or friend with you for support.

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