You are looking at your skin and see some spots that appear suspicious. Are they brown and flat, or red and raised? Find out the signs of skin cancer and psoriasis, and if psoriasis can lead to skin cancer.
Psoriasis and Skin Cancer
Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that expedites the production of skin cells. The hyperactive cell production causes your skin to develop red patches and plaques, frequently with silver-white scales. These scales and patches may hurt and itch.
Skin cancer, on the other hand, is a skin disease in which malignant cells grow in the skin tissues. It is the most prevalent cancer type in the US as of this writing.
Skin cancer develops on areas most exposed to direct sunlight such as head, face, neck, chest, arms, and hands.
Skin cancer can be difficult to detect and diagnose. That is because it often develops as a simple change on your skin. You may notice a sore that does not heal. You may also see symptoms such as unusual spots or bumps, which may appear raised, pearly, waxy, or shiny.
Identifying Psoriasis and Skin Cancer
Psoriasis flare-ups can be widespread and cover a large section of your body. They can also be small and cover a few areas. The body parts most affected by psoriasis include the scalp, elbows, hands, knees, and feet.
Psoriasis may be worse for a few weeks or months, and then the symptoms may fade or disappear altogether. Every person’s cycle is different and often unpredictable.
Skin cancer can be challenging to identify because it often looks like a mole or freckle. If the outlines of a suspicious spot are blurry or irregular, it may be cancerous. Cancer spots may be black, brown, navy blue, red, white, or yellow. Often, the color will be uneven within a single spot.
Moles and freckles rarely grow or grow so slow that the change is almost impossible to detect. Skin cancer, however, can grow fast. You may be able to identify changes in the spot in a few weeks or months.
Unlike psoriasis, skin cancer spots will not disappear and come back later. They will remain, and most likely grow and change, until you remove and treat them.
Treating Psoriasis and Skin Cancer
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, which means there is no permanent cure. However, you can treat it to reduce symptoms.
Psoriasis treatments fall into three basic categories. Your doctor may use only one of these types of medications, or they may suggest a combination. The kind of treatment you use depends on the severity of psoriasis.
Topical treatments are prescription creams, lotions, and solutions applied to your skin. They may help ease the symptoms of psoriasis.
Innate in natural sunlight, ultraviolet B is a potent treatment for psoriasis. UVB enters the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells. Treatment involves exposing the skin to artificial UVB light for a specific length of time on a regular schedule.
Treating psoriasis with a UVB lamp at home is an economical and convenient choice for many people. Like phototherapy in a clinic, it requires a consistent treatment schedule. Done the proper way, it can help patients achieve clearer skin and long-lasting relief from their symptoms.
Systemic medications are oral or injected medications. They include biologics, methotrexate, and retinoids. These are for people with severe cases of psoriasis. Many of these treatments are for short period use only.
Conversely, treatment for skin cancer depends on the size and severity.
Surgery is the best way to prevent skin cancer from spreading or growing.
Radiation therapy involves beams of high-powered energy that can destroy cancer cells. It is the next option if your doctor cannot remove all of the skin cancer during surgery.
Chemotherapy is an intravenous drug treatment that kills cancer cells. Some creams and lotions with cancer-killing medications may work if you have skin cancer confined to the top layers of your skin.
Photodynamic therapy is a combination of medication and laser light that is used to destroy cancer cells.
Biologic therapy involves medication that boosts your body’s natural ability to fight cancer.
Treatments for skin cancer are most successful when diagnosed early. It is more likely to grow and spread to nearby tissues and organs if it is not detected and treated first.
If you are wondering whether your psoriasis might be increasing your risk for cancer, talk to your dermatologist.
A study has found that patients with psoriasis may be more at risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer compared to patients who do not have psoriasis. The results echo findings from previous research identifying cancer as comorbidity, or related condition, of psoriatic disease.