The largest organ of the body is the skin and skin cancer begins in the cells of the outer layer, or epidermis, of the skin. Usually, the skin that is most exposed to the sun will develop abnormal cells, but they can also occur on areas of skin not exposed to sunlight. When providing elderly care, there are things to know about skin cancer.
There are 3 types of cancer that generally affect the elderly:
- Basal cell skin cancer
- Squamous cell skin cancer
Melanoma is the most aggressive of the three. This type of cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the cells of the skin called melanocytes. Melanocytes make melanin which is the pigment that gives skin its natural color. As the skin is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes make more pigment causing the skin to darken.
Elderly care providersshould consider the following warning signs of melanoma cancer:
- A mole or pigmented area that has changed in size, shape, and color
- A mole with more than one color
- Moles with irregular edges or borders
- A mole that is divided in half with each half being a different size or shape
- Satellite moles – when new moles grow near an existing mole
Moles should be checked twice a year for any signs of cancer. If an elderly careprovider notices any of the warning signs mentioned above, they should contact the doctor and schedule a skin examination.
The chances of recovering from skin cancer depends on what stage the cancer is at when it is found and if it has spread to other parts of the body. The process of tests performed to provide this information is called staging. In order to devise a treatment plan, it is important to know what stage the cancer is in.
- Level 1 – The cancer is in the outer layer (epidermis) only
- Level 2 – The cancer has started to spread into the papillary dermis (the upper layer of the inner layer of skin
- Level 3 – The cancer has spread from the papillary dermis into the papillary-reticular dermal interface
- Level 4 – The cancer has spread into the lower layer of the skin (reticular dermis)
- Level 5 – The cancer has spread below the skin (the subcutaneous layer)
There are several different types of treatment for cancer. The important thing forelderly care is to be aware of the signs that point to skin cancer. If there are any concerns or questions about the possibility of skin cancer, contact the doctor immediately.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care services near Pearland TX, call Sheila’s Angels and talk to our caring staff about your needs. Sheila’s Angels Provides In-home Senior Care for the Houston Area. Serving Clear Lake City, League City, Friendswood, Pearland, Alvin, El Largo, Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Taylor Lake, Clear Lake Shores and surrounding communities.