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Skin Cancer

Can Treatment Cure Skin Cancer?

Last modified: 
29/06/2012 - 13:19

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Doctors often measure the success of cancer treatment in terms of the five-year survival rate. A person usually is considered to be cured if he or she is alive and without any trace of skin cancer five years after first being diagnosed. The chances of a cure depend on many factors, including how early the disease was diagnosed and effectively treated.

Listed below are five-year survival rates for skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma is more than 99 percent.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is more than 95 percent.
  • Malignant melanoma is about 88 percent for cases treated when the cancer is still localized. About 82 percent of melanoma cases are diagnosed at this stage. The survival rates drop to 58 percent when melanoma has spread to nearby lymph nodes, and 13 percent when it has spread to distant parts of the body.

What Kind Of Follow Up Care Is Needed After Treatment?

People who are treated for skin cancer should see their doctor for regular follow-up visits. Follow-up visits allow the doctor to check the tumor site to make sure that the cancer has not come back in the same place, or recurred. If it does recur, additional treatment will be needed.

Need To Know:

Remember that individuals who have developed skin cancer once have a higher risk for the disease in other skin sites. Therefore, it is very important for these individuals to have regular medical checkups, examine their skin regularly, and take sun exposure precautions.

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.