One-half of all new cancers are skin cancers, making it the most common cancer. Skin cancers can occur on any portion of the body, although they are most commonly found on areas that are exposed to sunlight.
Malignant melanomas, is the most serious type, but can be successfully treated if caught early. Usually beginning as a light brown or black, flat spot with irregular borders that later can become red, blue or white. All types of skin cancer are caused mainly by too much exposure to the sun.
Fortunately, the majority of skin cancers are local growths and do not spread from the site of origin. Malignant melanoma is one that can and does spread from its site of origin. The spread of cancer cells from their original location to other parts of the body is called metastasis.
Most skin cancers appear on the parts of the body that are exposed to the sun. Sun protection is an essential part of the prevention of skin cancers. Some skin cancers do not appear in sun exposed areas and it is thought that they are genetically related.
Complementary therapies: Once skin cancer is diagnosed, the only acceptable treatment is medical care. Alternative approaches may be useful in cancer prevention and in combating nausea, vomiting, fatigue and headaches from chemotherapy, radiation, or immunotherapy used to treat advanced skin cancer.
Nutrition and diet: Skin experts know that the mineral zinc and the antioxidant vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E can help repair damaged body tissue and promote healthy skin. Now researchers are trying to determine whether these and other nutrients might protect skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. To test the theory, selected skin cancer patients are given experimental supplements of these vitamins in the hope of preventing cancer recurrence.
Herbal therapies: Following the advice of a local herbalist, some light-skinned Zimbabweans have used a crude ointment from the root and bark of the African sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) to treat skin cancer. While initial research indicates that kigelia extract can kill melanoma cells, further study is needed to determine whether or not a kigelia-based drug will effectively treat melanoma in humans.