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Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

diagnosis · treatment · research

What non-melanoma skin cancer is

Non-melanoma skin cancers are malignant skin tumours that are not classified as melanomas.

This name encompasses two types of tumours:

  • Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

Squamous cell carcinoma is a malignant proliferation of keratinocytes, a type of skin cell. It is a tumour with the capacity to metastasise, especially at the lymph node level, but this is rare and only occurs in very advanced cases. It usually presents as a squamous tumour that grows quite rapidly, easily reaching a size of more than 1 cm in the course of a few weeks.

It is a very common tumour, although it is less common than basal cell carcinoma. It accounts for 20-25% of malignant skin tumours. In the last 20 years, the incidence has increased in almost all countries due to increased exposure to sunlight and changes in clothing style.

Basal cell carcinoma arises from the lowest layer of the epidermis, the basal cells. It is particularly prevalent in Caucasian white people. The incidence is increasing by 10% per year. It cannot metastasise, although it can be locally invasive due to its slow but progressive growth.

Treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer at the IVO

The IVO is a reference centre for the treatment of basal cell carcinomas using Mohs micrographic surgery, the best treatment for basal cell carcinomas that have been treated previously and have reappeared, or those located in high-risk areas such as those close to important structures: eyes, nose, ears, etc.

Dermatology Service

The IVO dermatology service is an expert in performing Mohs surgery and its variants.

Clinical trials

The current way we have of advancing and improving cancer treatment is through what we call "clinical trials".

A clinical trial is a research study carried out on people with the aim of learning more about how the body reacts to certain treatments. These trials generally seek to find drugs that are more effective than the current best therapeutic option for patients, or that have similar efficacy but a better toxicity profile.

Bearing in mind that almost all currently available treatments are the result of clinical research, the importance of clinical trials is obvious.

The IVO has a clinical trials unit for all types of tumours and participates in phase 1-3 studies as well as other types of studies.

Living with non-melanoma skin cancer

coping with the diagnosis and receiving treatment and psychological support

Whether you receive the news of an initial diagnosis of cancer or a relapse, coping with cancer can be emotionally overwhelming. Each person has their own way of coping with a non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosis, but there are some recommendations that can help you through this process:

  • Maintain communication and the company of family and friends, the people closest to the patient, who can provide a support network throughout the process
  • Talk to other people who have survived cancer or who are in the same situation. There are many local and national associations and support groups. The Spanish Association Against Cancer (Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer) is perhaps the best-known one.
  • Inform yourself in order to make the best decisions about treatment and medical professionals.

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