Skin cancer treatments can range from minor surgery to systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation, for metastatic or invasive skin cancer. No matter your current treatment plan, there are ways to enhance the benefits of any treatment.
Don't Focus On The Numbers
Although knowing the statistics about different types of skin cancer can make you an informed and proactive patient, they do little to tell you about your individual response to treatment or your likely outcome. You should talk with your doctor about how your medical history and current health affects treatment outcomes. For example, if you are otherwise healthy, your chances at a positive outcome may be better than the statistics you see, which are only an average. If you have bad habits or other poor lifestyle choices, you may want to work on improving your lifestyle as you go through treatment.
Discuss Integrative Medicine
Integrative medicine blends the standard treatment approach for your type and stage of skin cancer with alternative treatments. An integrative approach is not only about treating cancer by using different techniques, but also tackling other aspects of cancer, such as the effects on your mind, body and spirituality. You never want to use alternative treatments without discussing any interactions with your oncologist, since they could make your current treatment less effective.
One component of integrative medicine is speaking with a nutritionist who specializes in cancer treatment. Your nutritional needs can change depending on your treatment plan and if you experience any side effects. Being as strong and healthy as possible throughout treatments can influence your body's ability to withstand treatment and speed up recuperation after each round of treatment. Other components of integrative medicine that may be helpful are acupuncture and medicinal herbs. Alternative treatments may be useful in combating fatigue or aches and pains you may experience during cancer treatments.
Know The Importance Of Psychology
Many people overlook the importance of their mental state in regards to their overall health. Although depression commonly occurs in people diagnosed with cancer, you should not ignore your feelings. You should proactively manage any depression or anxiety because your mental state can make dealing with your diagnosis and treatment more difficult.
If you are having extensive surgery to remove cancerous lesions from your skin, you may anticipate significant changes to your physical appearance, which can be difficult to accept. Another concern that is common in skin cancer patients is guilt if they feel like their previous behaviors contributed to the development of skin cancer.
Participating in support groups that are specific to your type of cancer can help address your concerns and help prevent the detrimental effects of depression. Although general support groups for cancer patients are helpful, it is better to find resources where other patients are going through a similar process. You may find the participants are more relatable.
Check Out Clinical Trials
If your current treatment is not as effective as it should be or you need to move on to another form of treatment, you may want to consider the vast number of clinical trials for skin cancer. Research on new treatments for skin cancer is ongoing and using novel approaches. For example, one current line of research uses the herpes virus to target skin cancer cells. Unlike the typical herpes virus that infects healthy cells, this genetically modified version only attacks cancer cells. With the growing research on skin cancer treatments, there are many reasons to be optimistic about new treatment options.
The diagnosis of skin cancer and impending treatment plan can make you nervous, but there are strategies you can use to increase your odds of a successful treatment. By remembering skin cancer and its treatments are not only a physical concern, but a whole body concern, you can attack cancer from multiple perspectives.