Chapter 2.26 - Skin Cancer
In this chapter, Dr. Donache presents Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the prevention and treatment of skin cancer.
The chapter includes an overview of the disease's symptoms, conventional treatment methods, and alternative therapies, including Bio-Energetic therapies, Bodywork and Movement therapies, and Mental / Emotional treatments.
This chapter is taken from Dr. Donache's upcoming book, Finding Balance - Integrating Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the Prevention of the Top 30 Diseases in America. Each section of chapter 2, which describes alternative treatments for each of the top diseases, is available as a download on this website.
Table of Contents
Glossary of Terms Used in this Chapter
Additional Disease Descriptions and Treatments Available for Download
Table of Contents
- ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
- SKIN CANCER
- What Causes Skin Cancer?
- Prevention of Skin Cancer
- CONVENTIONAL APPROACHES
- Treatment and Management
Importance of Early Detection
Issues and Answers
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (Cancer)
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Cancer)
- BIO-ENERGETIC THERAPIES
BODYWORK AND MOVEMENT THERAPIES
- Nutrition and Supplements
- Enzymatic Therapies
- Rainforest and Western Herbs
- Rainforest Herbs
- Western Herbs
- Homeopathic Remedies
- Essential Oils
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
- Therapeutic Bodywork and Massage
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Hatha Yoga Postures
- PRODUCT ORDERING INFORMATION
- GLOSSARY OF TERMS
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Skin cancer develops when the cells of an area in the skin grow out of control. Skin cancer is growing in incidence faster than any other cancer in America today. An estimated 600,000 Americans develop some type of skin cancer each year, and over 10,000 die from the disease. Fortunately, more than 90 percent of all cases of skin cancer are completely cured.
Skin cancer often begins in a mole, but can also occur elsewhere on the skin. Anyone can get skin cancer, but certain groups of people are at higher risk. These include people who have:
- Fair skin
- A family history of skin cancer
- A history of severe sunburns
- Repeated exposure to the sun over time
The skin is the body's largest organ. It shields us from injury, germs, and the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun.
The skin has three layers. These three layers carry out very important functions for the body. The innermost layer is mostly fat. The middle layer, called the dermis, contains hair follicles, sweat glands, and the supportive tissue that keeps the skin firm. The outer protective layer is called the epidermis. The epidermis contains three types of cells which can become cancerous:
- squamous cells
- basal cells
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Exposure to the sun stimulates the production of melanin as a defense against the sun's rays - a process known as sun tanning. Overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays is the major factor is basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Sun exposure is not only the major cause of wrinkles; it is responsible for 90 percent of most forms of skin cancer. People who have severe or blistering sunburns, especially in childhood, are twice as likely to develop the disease later in life. People with blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, and fair skin, who sunburn or freckle easily, are at the greatest risk for skin cancer, because they have less protectivepigment in their skin.
DNA and Sun-Related Damage:
Within the nucleus of each cell are strands of DNA, genetic material that holds the blueprint for the body. The twisted bands of DNA also control how cells divide. These divisions renew and repair the skin. Over time, despite the presence of protective melanin, the sun's ultraviolet rays can damage DNA, altering normal cell division. The rays disrupt the genetic material in the skin cells, causing tissue damage. They also harm the skin's normal repair mechanism. Normally, after UV exposure, this mechanism causes damaged cells to immediately cease reproducing, die, and be sloughed off to be replaced by new, healthy skin cells. This is why skin peels after a sunburn. If this repair system is impaired, damaged cells may continue to reproduce, and the skin becomes increasingly vulnerable to injury from subsequent exposure to UV rays. All skin cancers result from rapidly dividing cells that are no longer controlled by DNA.
These cancers are usually diagnosed by a biopsy. There are three types of skin cancers:
- A squamous cell cancer forms in the squamous cell layer.
- A basal cell cancer forms from basal cells.
- A melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, forms from melanocytes.
The good news about skin cancer is that the vast majority of cases can be cured if properly treated. Your family physician or internist may work with a dermatologist, a surgeon, a plastic surgeon or a radiologist to coordinate your care.
Prevention of Skin Cancer
The average person incurs between 50 and 80 percent of all sun exposure prior to the age of eighteen. Thus, even though skin cancer is rare in children, the childhood years have a major influence on a person's tendency to develop skin cancer later in life. An infant under the age of six months should never be exposed to direct sunlight or have sunscreen applied to his or her skin. Infants should always be dressed in protective closing when they are outside. Sunscreen can be used on a baby over six months old (choose a PABA-free formula, preferably one meant for young children), but sun exposure should still be limited, and the child should still be dressed in protective clothing.
Please take immediate steps to protect yourself against new skin cancers. Take protective measures while in the sun by following these important guidelines:
- Avoid the midday sun (10am - 3pm) when the ultraviolet rays are strongest.
- Wear long-sleeves, light colored clothing with a tight weave, hats with a brim and sunglasses that block ultraviolet rays.
- Always use a sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Use SPF lotion 15 or higher. Be sure to protect your lips with lip balm too.
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Glossary of Terms
- Adjuvant Therapy
- An additional treatment given after surgery; meant to assist or stimulate the body's own defenses.
- Basal Cells
- Roundish cells within the outer layer of skin.
- A procedure that involves removing a sample of tissue and examining it under a microscope for the presence of abnormal cells.
- The administration of one or more anticancer drugs; interferes with the growth of tumors.
- The use of liquid nitrogen to freeze cancerous lesions.
- The surgical removal of early skin cancer with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette).
- A physician who specialized in treating patients with skin diseases.
- The middle layer of the skin, which contains the sweat glands, hair follicles, elastic tissue and collagen.
- A procedure to destroy skin cancer cells by burning them with an electric needle.
- The outer layer of the skin; contains squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes.
- Excisional Surgery
- Surgery to cut out a diseased area.
- A strategy for stimulating the immune system to attack abnormal cells; may be used in melanoma therapy.
- Lymph Nodes
- Small, bean-shaped glands that act as filters for bacteria and cancer cells as the lymph fluid drains from internal parts of the body.
- The pigment that gives skin its natural color.
- Melanin-producing cells found in the epidermis.
- Mohs' Micrographic Surgery
- The removal of skin cancer by slicing off one thin layer at a time and examining each slice under the microscope.
- Radiation Therapy
- The user of x-rays to kill cancer cells.
- Squamous Cells
- Flat cells in the top layer of the skin.
- Ultraviolet Rays
- Invisible rays from the sun or sunlamps; can damage the skin.
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