Skin Cancer Expert Dr. Omar Ibrahimi On The Treatment Of Skin Cancer

Dr. Omar Ibrahimi
Dr. Omar Ibrahimi Dr. Omar Ibrahimi

Skin cancer is currently the most common type of cancer  within the United States. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer; however, it is less common than most other types of skin cancer. While factors such as genetics, race, and age play a part– anyone is at risk of developing the disease. It is therefore important that preventative measures are taken at all times and that overexposure to ultraviolet rays is avoided. 

According to data provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2018, the latest year for which incidence data are available, in the United States, 83,996 new cases of Melanomas of the skin were reported, and 8,199 people died of this cancer. For every 100,000 people, 22 new Melanomas of the skin cases were reported and 2 people died of this cancer.”

What Is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is essentially the abnormal growth of skin cells and is most often developed in areas that have been excessively exposed to the sun. However, it is possible to find skin cancer in areas that are not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. Skin cancer is categorized into three major types:

  • Basal cell carcinoma is most commonly found on the face; however, it does often invade the tissue in surrounding areas – but it rarely metastasizes

  • Squamous cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer and are generally not life-threatening. However, 5-10% of them can be aggressive, especially if left untreated. 

  • Melanoma originates from melanocytes, the pigment-making cells in our skin. Whilst rarer than the previously mentioned cancer types, melanomas are extremely dangerous and can occur anywhere on the body.

  • There are other less common types of skin cancer including sebaceous carcinoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans that are diagnosed by dermatologists.

What Are The Causes And Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

Whilst anyone is at risk of getting skin cancer, there are factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing the skin disease. 

Dr. Omar Ibrahimi, Director, Connecticut Skin Institute says that “ people who are fair-skinned, have a family history of melanoma and have many moles are at a  predisposition to developing melanoma”. Other risk factors include:

  • Skin that freckles, burns, and reddens easily, or becomes painful when exposed to the sun

  • Blue or green eyes

  • Older age 

  • Blond or red hair

  • A personal history of skin cancer

  • A history of sunburns

What are the Treatments for Skin Cancer

Before treatment can begin, patients will first be examined and any suspicious lumps or moles will be biopsied for testing. A biopsy is used to not only determine whether or not a patient may have skin cancer but can also be used to determine what type of skin cancer the biopsy contains.

If the test shows that the biopsy is indeed cancerous, additional tests may be required to determine the degree (stage) of the skin cancer. Early detection will require less aggressive treatment and a higher success rate as it stops the cancer cells before they have a chance to spread.

The treatment options available for skin cancer vary and will depend on the size, type, depth, and location of the skin abnormality. Smaller skin malignancies that are limited to the surface of the skin may be treated with a toolkit of therapeutic options.

Additional treatment options include:

  • Freezing

  • Chemotherapy

  • Photodynamic therapy

  • Biological therapy

  • Excisional surgery

  • Curettage and electrodesiccation or cryotherapy

  • Mohs surgery

  • Radiation therapy

Medical experts such as Dr.Ibrahimi, who is one of the leading physicians in the field of diagnosis and treatment of all types of skin cancer, recommend patients schedule regular follow-up examinations with patients to ensure that they remain cancer-free.

How to Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer

Whilst the disease cannot be entirely prevented, there are ways in which people can go about reducing their risks. This can be done by:

  • Limiting sun exposure. In addition to using sunscreen, this means staying in the shade as often as possible, covering up to prevent sunburn, and wearing a wide brim hat to protect the face, head, ears, and neck.

  • Avoid Tanning beds. Indoor tanning is not a safer alternative to sunbathing. The UV rays from tanning beds will cause the same damage as the UV rays from the sun. The CDC has reported that in-door tanning has led to 3,000 people being rushed to the emergency room each year.

  • Wearing sunscreen at all times during the day. It is important to remember that sunscreen requires reapplication throughout the day in order to provide constant UV protection. This is particularly important if you are fair-skinned.

If you are going to be exposed to the sun it is imperative that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains a sun protection factor of 30 or higher.

Dr.Ibrahimi says that “it's well established that UV radiation that is sufficient to cause a sunburn has done DNA damage to our skin cells. This is why you want to check for the SPF 30 or higher. Check that it is broad-spectrum, which means the product protects against both ultraviolet A and B radiation. It is important to check the ingredient list and make sure that the sunscreen you buy contains zinc or titanium dioxide because they physically block ultraviolet radiation. You also want it to contain avobenzone, oxybenzone, or another molecule known to block UVB radiation”

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone should carefully examine their entire body, at least once a month. During the head-to-toe self-examination, people should pay close attention to:

  • The formation of any new moles or abnormal growths

  • Existing moles or growths should be monitored and any changes in their size should be noted

  • Any significant changes to existing skin moles or growth should be closely monitored and reported to a medical professional

  • Any lesions on the skin that have changed, begun to itch, spontaneously bleed, or do not heal.

Final Thoughts 

Whilst there are always new advancements in science and treatments to remove cancerous cells – prevention is better than cure. Whilst tanning beds and long hours in the sun may provide you with a temporary sunkissed glow, they can cause extreme permanent damage to the skin that can lead to melanomas and other forms of skin cancer. It is therefore vital to always wear the necessary sun protection and avoid UV rays as much as possible.

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