Skin cancer – rising diagnosis figures
Due to the introduction of skin cancer screening in 2008, diagnosed skin cancer cases have risen sharply. However, the survival rate is high and malignant tumors are rather rare (surveys of the Robert Koch Institute). Surgery is often combined with adjuvant or sole radiation therapy for successful treatment.
1 from 10
approx. 94 %
approx. 70 %
Source: “Cancer in Germany”, RKI/Krebsdaten.de
Where can you have skin cancer treated in Munich?
The team of Radiologie München supports colleagues from other disciplines within the framework of tumour boards to develop an individual treatment plan for skin carcinomas. In doing so, we coordinate the measures for skin cancer radiation with the respective state of health in order to ensure the best possible therapy.
What is a tumor board?
Tumour boards are conferences in which specialists from a wide range of disciplines discuss the relevant case together. In doing so, they jointly determine the optimal strategies for diagnostics and therapy.
How is skin cancer treated?
The diagnosis of skin cancer includes various cancers of the skin. If you receive this diagnosis, it is important to work out an optimal treatment plan together with the attending physician in order to treat the cancer in the best possible way.
Depending on the diagnosis and the stage of the disease, different forms of therapy can be considered for the respective patient. In general, there are two types of skin cancer: white (or light) skin cancer and black skin cancer(malignant melanoma).
White skin cancer can be subdivided into basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Compared to black skin cancer, white skin cancer is diagnosed more frequently and metastasizes less often. In most cases, surgery is the main method of treatment; radiation therapy and other forms of therapy may also be used.
Additional radiation therapy may follow surgery. This adjuvant radiation therapy is especially useful when the cancer cannot be completely removed and cancer cells or metastases remain in the body. The goal of radiation therapy is to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells, thereby reducing the risk of recurrence. Treatment of metastases with the help of radiation relieves pain.
Percutaneous external beam radiation therapy(teletherapy) uses high-energy radiation. Radiation is administered from the outside through the skin and destroys the tumor cells. Since the radiation field is precisely calculated and individually adapted to the cancer, the surrounding healthy tissue is spared as much as possible.
In addition to teletherapy, brachytherapy is also possible. In this procedure, the radiation source, a radionuclide, is placed directly on the skin cancer. Since the radiation of the radionuclide has a much shorter range than the radiation used in teletherapy, it must be placed directly on the tumour.
The first line of treatment is usually surgical removal of the carcinoma. In this process, using local anesthesia or anesthesia, the tumor is removed completely in the best case, and in certain cases the nearby lymph nodes are also removed.
Additional or alternative treatments are used when the cancer is no longer localised and has already spread throughout the body, when the stage of the cancer is too advanced or when surgery is not an option for the patient.
Other treatment options
To increase the chances of cure for a complex, advanced cancer such as malignant malignancy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy may be useful in addition to surgery and radiation therapy.
Immunotherapy aims to build up the patient’s immune system so that the body’s own defences can fight the cancer. Targeted therapy uses drugs that stop tumor growth by specifically interfering with the metabolism of tumor cells.
What is the treatment process in our practices?
What do you need to pay attention to before, during and after treatment?
At the beginning of every therapy, there is an accurate cancer diagnosis. Only when the clinical picture is clearly outlined does the attending physician work out an individual treatment plan with a team of dermatologists, oncologists, radiotherapists and, above all, together with the patient. Depending on the location, size, spread and stage of the cancer, certain forms of treatment may be considered for the patient, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or alternative forms of treatment.
Your attending physician will be happy to provide you with comprehensive information about the individual treatment steps and their functional and temporal sequence. Feel free to ask your doctor questions if there is any confusion about treatment, side effects, or possible consequences.
After treatment, follow-up care is elementary. To prevent a possible relapse, it is necessary to check the success of the therapy at regular intervals. In this way, a rapid response can be made in the event of a relapse. In addition, concomitant or consequential damage can be identified and treated in a timely manner. The length and regularity of follow-up depends primarily on the type and stage of cancer, the spread, but also on other factors.
What are the side effects of skin cancer treatment?
For many diagnoses of white skin cancer, the chances of cure are very good, as they can be completely removed without complications by local surgery. In more advanced and metastatic stages of cancer, side effects may occur during and after each form of treatment.
During radiation therapy, redness, irritation and scarring may occur on the skin in the radiation field. In addition, depending on the irradiated body area (head, neck, abdomen, …), different side effects may occur in rare cases, for example mucosal inflammation in the mouth, esophagus or abdomen, or nausea and diarrhea.
As a result of immunotherapy for skin cancer, skin rashes or itching may occur. Since this type of treatment is aimed at strengthening the body’s immune system in the fight against cancer, side effects can also be observed that affect the patient’s immune system.
With targeted therapy, side effects may occur that can be due to the medications taken. This also includes changes in the skin and mucous membrane (itching, redness, inflammation, diarrhea). Thyroid or liver function may also be affected.