It is estimated that more than 70,000 new cases of skin carcinomas appear every year in France. Those skin cancer are much more common than the melanoma and much less aggressive. In the vast majority of cases, the lesion remains localized, without giving rise to metastases.
This is no reason to neglect these small tumors that develop on the skin. “If nothing is done, the lesion will grow bigger and it can widen”, observes Professor Caroline Robert, head of the dermatology department at the Gustave Roussy hospital in Villejuif (94). However, the larger it is, the more difficult the tumor is to treat.
Two forms of carcinoma
A carcinoma is a kind of ulcer, a scab that forms on hardened skin. There are two forms.
- the basal cell carcinoma (70% of skin cancers) sometimes gives “A small pearly nodule, firm and shiny” according to Professor Robert’s description.
- The squamous cell carcinoma (20% of skin cancers) do not have this pearl side. They can be embossed or hollow. They are more worrying than basal cells because they can, sometimes, degenerate into metastases.
In all cases, just one message to remember: “It is absolutely necessary to show a doctor any lesion of the skin which does not go away and which grows”, insists Professor Robert.
Who is at risk?
Skin carcinomas most often appear after 50 years in people who have exposed their skin extensively to the sun or artificial tanning in the cabin. The fair skin are more concerned. Finally, be aware that immunocompromised patients (for example, after an organ transplant) are at greater risk. People who have actinic keratosis (small, red, scaly patches on the skin) are more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma.
What are the treatments for skin carcinoma?
- The surgery is the main treatment for skin carcinomas. The lesion is removed under local anesthesia. Hospitalization is not necessary.
- Apart from surgery, there are treatments reserved for superficial forms. It can be a cream applied to the lesion, usually for a month and a half. To destroy cancer cells, we can also use a photodynamic therapy (a photosensitizing cream reacts to exposure to light).
- For the inoperable forms of basal cell carcinoma (due to the size of the lesion or the condition of the patient), there are targeted therapies in the form of tablets.
- ” For the metastatic squamous cell carcinoma, we have recently had an immunotherapy with anti-PD1 antibodies, which work in other cancers, and which are effective ”, underlines Prof. Robert.
Carcinomas frequently recur. We will therefore have to be extra vigilant and protect ourselves, more than ever, from the sun with a hat and sunscreen. It is advisable to carefully monitor the condition of his skin. And to consult a dermatologist in the slightest doubt.