Skin cancer develops in skin cells. The causes and degrees of malignancy vary. The skin is the largest organ and plays an important role in the body. It acts as a protective layer and performs several tasks. The skin protects the body from injury and infection, heat and ultraviolet damage. It prevents the body from losing water and produces vitamin D.
The most common non-melanoma skin cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. These cancers can usually be successfully treated by surgery to remove the tumor or other chemical treatments (chemotherapies). Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer around the world. (1)
Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin. It is usually a pink or translucent nodule that appears on sun-exposed surfaces, such as the face or neck. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for about 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed. This cancer rarely spreads to other parts of the body, but it is possible to have more than one basal cell carcinoma at a time. When one has had a basal cell carcinoma, the risk of having another one is higher.
The second commonest skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It can develop on any part of the body including mucous membranes but is most often seen on sun-exposed body parts such as the face, neck, bald head, hands, shoulders, arm, and back. (2)
Home Remedies & Exercises/Activities For Non-melanoma Skin Cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancers are serious conditions and can become life-threatening in a quick time if prompt treatment is not made. If diagnosed and treated early, it has a good survival rate (100% 5-year survival rate). So, it is advisable to follow medical advice and treatment if you are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers.
Light to moderate exercise may always help to keep you in good shape, both physically and mentally, enabling you to cope with the disease better. Exercise may also lessen your chance of having cancer or aggravating it. Always take expert advice and then decide your exercise schedule.
In recent times, some Botanics (plant extracts) for topical application on the non-melanoma skin cancer lesions are in focus. These usually have immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties and help to reverse or suppress the carcinogenesis process. Some of these Botanics include Ingenol mebutate, Hypericin, Coffee extract, Tea extract, Paclitaxel, Beta-carotene, etc. You can use these as home remedies for increased relief in combination with conventional treatment. (7) (8)
Exposure to ultraviolet rays increases the chance of non-melanoma skin cancers. Most of these carcinomas develop in areas of the body that are regularly exposed to the sun. People who have excessive sun exposure and have severe sunburn are at higher risk. Others who are at risk are:
- People with a previous history of non-melanoma skin cancers are at higher risk of having this cancer again in their lifetime.
- People who have had an organ transplant and have a weakened immune system have an elevated risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancers.
- The risk of non-melanoma skin cancers increases with age. Most non-melanoma skin cancers appear after age 60, but can also be seen in the children, teenagers, and people in their early twenties.
- People with fair skin, blond or red hair and blue, green or gray eyes are at higher risk.
- People with some inherited diseases such as basal cell disease have a higher risk.
- Squamous cell carcinoma can happen to other areas of the body (not exposed to sun) as well, but sun-exposed parts are more vulnerable.
- In rare cases, it can appear on normal healthy skin. The researchers believe that this unknown origin has a genetic component. (3)
Common Symptoms For Non-melanoma Skin Cancer
- An elevated lesion with a central depression that bleeds occasionally
- Open lesions that bleed and crust for weeks
- Scaly red plates with irregular edges that sometimes form a crust or bleed
- Warts that develop and crust or bleed occasionally (4)
Common Treatments For Non-melanoma Skin Cancer
Most basal cell carcinomas can be surgically removed if found early. The location and size of the lesion dictate the treatment direction. In deciding the best treatment, one must also consider the patient’s age, medical history, and current health status. Talk with your doctor or specialist about the treatment options that are most appropriate for you. (5) (6)
- Aksoy B, Tatlıparmak A, Tamer F, Ergin C, Koç E. The Incidence of Precancerous and Cancerous Skin Lesions: A Retrospective Multicenter Study. Southern Clinics of Istanbul Eurasia. 2017;28(3).
- Stransky N, Egloff AM, Tward AD, et al. The mutational landscape of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Science. 2011;333(6046):1157-1160.
- Apalla Z, Lallas A, Sotiriou E, Lazaridou E, Ioannides D. Epidemiological trends in skin cancer. Dermatology practical & conceptual. 2017;7(2):1.
- Goyal N, Thatai P, Sapra B. Skin cancer: symptoms, mechanistic pathways and treatment rationale for therapeutic delivery. Therapeutic delivery. 2017;8(5):265-287.
- Queen L. Skin Cancer: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment. 2017.
- Simões M, Sousa J, Pais A. Skin cancer and new treatment perspectives: A review. Cancer letters. 2015;357(1):8-42.
- Ruiz-Casado A, Martin-Ruiz A, Pérez LM, Provencio M, Fiuza-Luces C, Lucia A. Exercise and the hallmarks of cancer. Trends in cancer. 2017;3(6):423-441.
- Millsop JW, Sivamani RK, Fazel N. Botanical agents for the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Dermatology research and practice. 2013;2013.