Understanding Skin Cancer -- Diagnosis and Treatment
What Are the Treatments for Skin Cancer? continued...
Immunotherapy is a field of cancer treatment that attempts to target and kill cancer cells by manipulating the body's immune system. Some of the most promising developments in the field of immunotherapy have arisen from efforts to cure advanced melanoma. Some researchers are treating advanced cases with vaccines, while others are using drugs such as interferon, interleukin-2, and Yervoy (ipilimumab) in an effort to stimulate immune cells into attacking melanoma cells more aggressively. Genetic manipulation of melanoma tumors may make them more vulnerable to attack by the immune system. Each of these treatment approaches aims to immunize a patient's body against its own cancer -- something the body cannot do naturally.
There are other drugs that target specific genes within normal cells that cause them to become cancerous. Called targeted therapy, these drugs include Vemurafenib (Zelboraf), Dabrafenib (Tafinlar), and Trametinib (Mekinist).
People who have had skin cancer once are at risk for getting it again. Anyone who has been treated for skin cancer of any kind should have a checkup at least twice a year. About 20% of skin cancer patients experience recurrence or a second separate tumor, often within the first two years after diagnosis.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies for Skin Cancer
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. Be sure to discuss any alternative treatments you are considering using with your cancer doctor.
Diet and Skin Cancer
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. Thus far, no nutrient has been found to be protective against skin cancer.