How Long Will It Take To Recover From Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer & How Long Does The Symptoms Last?

Skin cancer is often divided into two types: melanoma and non-melanoma. Non-melanoma cancer occurs in basal or squamous cells. These cells are located at the base of the epidermis and therefore cover the entire surface of the body. Non-melanoma cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. (1)

Since cases are usually treated in the office by dermatologists and do not require hospitalization, no data are recorded in cancer registries, making it difficult to compile statistics. Therefore, non-melanoma cancer statistics are mostly estimates. The areas of the body most often affected by this type of cancer are those exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and back of the hands.

How Long Will It Take To Recover From Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer?

Normally it may take months to recover completely from nonmelanoma skin cancer. Everything depends on the time of diagnosis and extent of the disease.

Non-melanoma skin cancer survival rate in most cases is very good. The relative 5-year survival for this disease is 100%, which implies a high percentage of chances of complete recovery. On average, patients (from the general population) diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer usually survive at least 5 years or even more following positive diagnosis.

Follow Up Care Is Important

Patients with nonmelanoma skin cancer will not end after the completion of the initial treatment plan and the success of the therapy. You need to continue thorough check-up at regular intervals by the health care team to observe your overall health and ensure that cancer has not returned.

Regular physical assessments, medical tests or both may be included in the follow-up care. In the following months or even years, physicians may want to monitor your recovery process. Regular tests for the fresh appearance of non-melanoma skin cancer lesions are an essential step of the follow-up care. This often includes a full-body screening (particularly the skin) by a medical professional. This process is followed as people often develop different types of skin cancer after being treated and recovered from one type of skin cancer. (3)

Some factors increase the risk of developing non-melanoma cancer, including:

  • Personal or family history of skin cancer
  • Exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays
  • Radiotherapy
  • Skin sensitive to the sun (easily catch sunburns or freckles)
  • Pale skin, eyes, and hair
  • Weakened immune system
  • When exposed to certain industrial chemicals such as radium, compounds of arsenic, and coal tar, etc. (2)

How Long Does The Symptoms Last?

Common symptoms of nonmelanoma skin cancer include the formation of nodules on the skin. It may be pink or of skin color, firm, and translucent. They often have raised pearly white edges. The lump can have small blood vessels on the surface that give it its pink color. People often confuse it with a normal mole.

Another symptom is the formation of button-like appearance on the skin or a lesion that bleeds; the appearance of crusts that frequently reappears or does not heal after four weeks.

Small plaque of scaly skin that looks like a rash of the skin and often occurs on the trunk or limbs can also be a possible symptom.

Plaque with poorly defined edges on the skin that looks like a white, yellow or waxy scar is another common symptom of nonmelanoma skin cancer. (3)

Treatment Options For Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Most basal cell carcinomas can be surgically removed if found early. Dermatologists can achieve cure rates of up to 98% when treating non-aggressive non-melanoma skin cancer. Treatment varies with the location and size of the lesion. 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.

Superficial Radiation Therapy (RTS) is safe and effective for non-aggressive non-melanoma skin cancer and keloids. RTS administered by dermatologists is different from the many therapeutic modalities offered by radiation oncologists, with RTS giving better results and lower risk. RTS is relatively easy to administer and has little impact on surrounding healthy tissues, can be used on any skin surface and causes little scarring, and is less risky than surgery, which is especially important for the elderly or at high-risk patients with significant comorbidities. (3) (4)

References:

  1. Leiter U, Keim U, Eigentler T, et al. Incidence, mortality, and trends of nonmelanoma skin cancer in Germany. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2017;137(9):1860-1867.
  2. Apalla Z, Lallas A, Sotiriou E, Lazaridou E, Ioannides D. Epidemiological trends in skin cancer. Dermatology practical & conceptual. 2017;7(2):1.
  3. Queen L. Skin Cancer: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment. 2017.
  4. Ersser SJ, Effah A, Dyson J, et al. Effectiveness of interventions to support the early detection of skin cancer through skin self‐examination: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. British Journal of Dermatology. 2019;180(6):1339-1347.

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