Skin Cancer Awareness Month: What Happens If You Leave Skin Cancer Untreated?
What to Know About Untreated Skin Cancer
The Dangers of Untreated Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. Brought on typically by overexposure of UV rays (via the sun or tanning beds), skin cancer can be prevented and oftentimes easily treated. However, if left untreated, no matter which type of skin cancer you have, it will undoubtedly cause severe health complications and may even lead to death. Let’s break it down a bit and walk you through what would happen if skin cancer were left untreated.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
BCC is the number one most common type of skin cancer. It is also the least life-threatening. The thing about BCC is that it is a slow-growing cancer. Many patients believe that since it is slow-growing, they can wait to have it treated. This is NOT the case. Most doctors advise that BCC be treated immediately.
BCC can be tricky in that while on the surface it may seem as if there is little to no change in growth. However, the root of the cancer found beneath the skin may have spread far beyond originally anticipated.
The longer you wait to treat BCC, the larger it grows, which means the treatment area can be quite large. This could leave behind large scarring or even cause disfigurement leading to functionality issues.
BCC may not exactly lead to death, but the consequences of putting off treatment may be more than you bargained for.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Second only to BCC, SCC is also one of the most common types of skin cancers. This one, however, has a higher mortality rate than BCC, mostly because patients choose to wait to have it treated. Unlike BCC, SCC can spread much farther without patients knowing. If left untreated, SCC will metastasize, meaning it will grow or spread, affecting the lymph nodes, organs, and possibly bones.
SCC is typically most fatal to older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems, but this does not mean that healthy individuals are completely safe. Anyone who waits to have SCC treated puts themselves at a higher risk of dying from this type of cancer.
Everyone knows melanoma as the deadliest type of skin cancer, and they are correct. Melanoma is an aggressive cancer that spreads rapidly which is why early detection and immediate treatment is absolutely crucial.
When melanoma is detected early, it gives the patients a good chance of being cured. Early detection allows doctors to treat the cancer before it metastasizes. If, however, the patient has waited for treatment and the melanoma has indeed metastasized, the chances of being successfully treated dramatically decrease.
Regardless of the type of skin cancer you may have, it is imperative that you be treated immediately. Putting off treatment is like playing with a ticking time bomb and is essentially a gamble with your life.
Immediate treatment is very important, but prevention and regular screening is also crucial. Learn how to best protect your skin and why regular screening matters.
If you are in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and need regular skin cancer screening or require treatment, our experts at The Dermatology Group are ready to give you the advice, resources, and treatment you need. Give us a call today!