Skin cancer comes in several forms, but if you are given a diagnosis, there are several things you should do right away. These things can save your life and ensure that you stay healthy and avoid any disfigurement from having the cancer removed. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor for the right course of action.
Melanoma Requires a Skin Exam
If you have received a diagnosis of melanoma, your doctor has done a skin biopsy to determine that. Now, you will need to undergo a complete body exam and physical. Your doctor will be looking for swollen lymph nodes, which is an indication that the cancer has spread. You may need further biopsies, a CAT scan, an MRI or a blood test as well. This will be largely based on how serious your skin cancer might be.
Staging of Skin Cancer
Based on the information gathered during your physical, your doctor will determine which stage of skin cancer you have. Stage 0 means your melanoma is only on the skin. Stage IV means your cancer has spread through your lymph nodes. The stages in between are varying degrees of spreading. There is still a very good prognosis for treatment in stages 0 through II. After that, it gets more difficult.
You Need Testing
Your doctor will now do further testing, which could include another MRI, CAT scan and blood work. You may also need to undergo an aspiration treatment, which involves removing some of the cancerous cells using a needle. Depending on which stage your cancer is, you may also need to see other specialists, such as an oncologist. You will need to be seen often to be sure the treatment is working and that your cancer isn't spreading.
Melanoma can spread quickly so rapid treatment is a must. If the cancer is only on your skin, it will likely be removed via a surgical procedure. In some cases, you will need to take medication to shrink a tumor. If your cancer has spread to other body parts, you may require more extensive surgery or chemotherapy. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan based on your particular case of skin cancer and will help you decide what's best for you.
Observation is Necessary
No matter what stage your skin cancer is or what your treatment plan, you will need to be seen very regularly to watch for more troublesome spots. This will involve regular skin checks, medications and radiation. This type of skin cancer can return, so it's very important to keep all scheduled checkups so that any new spots can be treated right away. People do die from it if it's left untreated, so see your doctor any time you are worried about a spot on your skin.