The skin is the largest “organ” of the body. It functions as the “first line of defense,” protecting the body from outside invasions of bugs, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, extremes in temperatures and even radiation. As such, it is susceptible to injury from persistent, harsh onslaughts.
The skin also is structured, on the microscopic level, similar to the kidneys. It processes toxic substances out of the body, especially when the normal channels (e.g. liver and kidneys) are overtaxed. This is why the common brown spots that occur on the skin are called “liver spots.” They are accumulations of toxins being processed out.
Any time tissue is subjected to overwhelming or persistent onslaughts they run the risk of being triggered into cancerous activity.
The common cancers that occur on the skin are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. On occasion, an internal cancer may manifest, or metastasis, on the skin.
Of the diagnosed skin cancers, malignant melanomas are the most aggressive. They move more rapidly into the blood system than the others. Of course, once the cancerous cells move into the blood vessels, whether artery, vein or lymph, they are immediately transported (metastasized) to all parts of the body which is extraordinarily more difficult to treat than those that remain localized on an isolated skin lesion.
Almost any skin lesion (blemish) is considered to be “pre-cancerous” because it has been altered from its original form. By that logic moles, warts, meningiomas, actinic keratosis (dry sun spots), seborrheic keratosis and even lentigo (liver spots) are “pre-cancerous.”
In order to develop a successful treatment plan as expeditiously as possible, it is extremely helpful to visually identify the various skin lesions that appear. The simplest way to identify a cancerous lesion is to compare it to other known cancerous lesions. There are many books and web sites that depict the lesions in their various forms as well as posters displayed in medical facilities.
Many skin cancers and pre-cancerous lesions can be treated topically by various means. Freezing is quite popular. Burning through various methods is also popular. There are certain acids and other escharotic methods that can be effective, as well as electrical burning. Two examples of escharotic chemicals are the chemotherapeutic agent 5fu and the folklorish “black salve.”
Sometimes surgical removal is a prudent option. Common biopsies can be used for total removal as well as sample taking for laboratory analysis. A method of progressively removing areas of skin has gained popularity. It is known as the Mohs technique. It is critical with this method to continue the removal of tissue until the margins are perfectly clear of cancer cells.
If it becomes clear that metastasis has occurred with any of these cancers, options are limited to systemic treatment which comes in many forms with many statistical differences in success depending on the unique chemistry and disposition of each individual.
Take care of your skin and it will take care of you as best it can.
Dr. Miles practices Naturopathic Medicine alongside other holistic practitioners at the Catalina Clinic of Integrative Medicine in Catalina, Arizona. www.catalinaclinic.com