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Is Melanoma the Only Type of Skin Cancer?

Is Melanoma the Only Type of Skin Cancer?

Most people believe that melanoma is the only type of skin cancer, and we understand why. Melanoma is very popular, mostly because it’s the deadliest of all skin cancers. In reality, there are 3 skin cancer types and melanoma is the rarest of them all.

With melanoma or any other kind of skin cancer, the sun has been found to play a huge role. When we say the sun, we mean the UVA and UVB radiations which emanate from the sun.  But it’s not the sun alone that releases these deadly rays. 

“Other artificial sources such as solariums and sunbeds also radiate the UVR and people who have used a solarium have a greatly increased risk for skin cancer” explains Jane Homberger, a registered nurse and the founder of Skin Smart Australia.

What’s the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?

While both are harmful and should be avoided at all costs, Ultraviolet Ray A (UVA) and Ultraviolet Ray B (UVB) are not the same. The “UVA rays can penetrate deeply into the dermis” Jane says. In other words, they have a longer length of ray and are mostly responsible for skin ageing. UVB is shorter. But, it’s also fully capable of causing harm to the superficial layers of the skin. 

Types of Skin Cancer

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma

This is the most common of all skin cancer types, but thankfully, it is the least deadly. BCC is mainly caused by UV radiation from sun exposure. Little wonder why this skin cancer mostly affects areas such as the chest, face, shoulders, and back—they’re the most exposed to the sun. 

This cancer type often manifests either as a flat pink scaly area or a raised pink pearly nodules. It also tends to not spread past the singular affected area. However, it does eat deep into the affected spot and can cause serious damage if not treated fast.

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Like Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC for short) tends to also settle on sun-exposed areas of the body. However, it is characterized by a painful scaly lesion and can spread across various parts of the body. This is why treating this cancer as early as possible is key.

  • Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Because it spreads so rapidly, it is very difficult to treat. Melanoma evolves from the cell that produces melanin— the pigment that gives our skin its colour. Jane states that “melanoma rises in an existing mole, or it can grow as a new lesion. Just because a person had had a mole all their life doesn’t mean it can’t become melanoma when they’re adults”. Contrary to popular belief, melanoma can affect anyone at any age. Unlike BCC and SCC, it can grow on any part of the body, irrespective of whether or not the area is constantly exposed to the sun.

Factors that Determine Survival from Skin Cancer

  • Early Diagnosis. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better. 
  • Genetic predisposition 
  • Specific Cancer Diagnosis. 

The risk of skin cancer seems to be on the increase, especially in people under the age of 40. Knowing the warning signs of skin cancer can help ensure that cancerous changes are detected and treated before cancer manages to spread. It all starts with being aware of any change in your skin including hidden areas like your toes and scalp. Pay extra attention to your moles and seek medical attention the minute you notice an abnormality. 

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management (Part Three)

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management (Part Three)

WHY SKINCARE MATTERS

    Let me begin by saying that despite what has been discussed, ageing can still be a very positive journey and l for one see it as a privilege as unfortunately there are not many people who make it to their ‘golden years’.

    However, when it comes to skincare we do need to stop looking at it as just purely an aesthetic concern and begin to see it as a health issue.  Our skin that is vital and fragile will age, and its roles of protection and regeneration will diminish over time.

    Due to our ever-growing ageing population, we are realizing how ageing skin can in fact be a real health problem that can complicate and due to co-morbidities can be made complicated.

    As health care professionals in a clinical setting, knowledge of skin health is vital to ensure that it is being protected, maintained and if need be treated accordingly.

    As individuals, we can help ourselves to ensure that skin health is maintained for as long as possible.

    How can this be achieved?

    From a clinical perspective, there are evidence-based interventions available to help promote and maintain skin health as individuals age by incorporating a prevention network.  This network combines elements of education such as the importance of using sun protection, interventions for early diagnosis and treatment of skin problems such as skin cancer as well as protection against wounds and lesions such as skin tears.  

    Within this prevention network, there is also the element of providing therapeutic and rehabilitative interventions when skin issues are established such as providing emollient therapy for dry skin to control symptoms and maintain the integrity of the skin.

    Fortunately, as individuals, we can incorporate this prevention network into our everyday lives, and it does not need to be made up of an array of complicated or elaborate routines.  We need to maintain focus on preventing dry skin in ways such as bathing ourselves in lukewarm water and not hot as this can lead to skin sensitivity.  Avoid vigorous rubbing when drying ourselves as this can create friction leading to a possible breakdown in skin integrity and ongoing issues.

    Our skin is best protected by washing with pH balanced body and face washers.  Daily application of emollient based creams or lighter based if preferred is important to not only alleviate skin dryness but also improve the barrier of the skin and microbial defences.  Furthermore, daily sun protection with a broad-spectrum sunscreen is important to prevent skin cancers but also incorporating self-skin assessment is key to ensure early intervention.

    Finally, when we talk about skin health it is about approaching it holistically so, therefore, incorporating a well-balanced diet is just as important as what we topically put onto our skin.

   What hopefully has been highlighted, albeit only briefly, is not only how wonderful our skin is in all that it does for us, but also the importance of why it must be taken care of and maintained to help achieve the quality of life. This can be achieved in both clinical settings but also as individuals on a day-to-day basis.

   The care of ageing skin must change focus from looking at it just from an aesthetic perspective to how the breakdown of structure and function affects the quality of one’s life.  And this must start from an early age because if we are to take note of what the World Health Organisation has stated…prevention is far more effective and costs far less than treatment.


This blog post is written by Dora Erdossy, Dermal Educator & Dermal Clinician. With over 25 years’ experience in the Skin Care Industry, Dora Erdossy has worked as a Dermal Clinician and Educator for some of the industry’s largest brands across Australia, USA and Europe. Dora’s passion for education saw her become an educator for dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute in 2001 where she taught in Australia, Vietnam, Fiji and New Zealand. In 2005, Dora moved to the United States where for the next 3 years, she championed the role of Senior Educator at dermalogica’s Los Angeles HQ.⠀

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management (Part Two)

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management (Part Two)

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

    There are two contributing factors when we talk about ageing skin.  

  1. Intrinsic ageing – this is genetically determined meaning it’s what happens as we naturally age.  We don’t have control over this.
  2. Extrinsic ageing – this type of ageing is due to internal and external influences such as UV exposure, air pollution, stress, smoking, sleep and medication.  The good news is that we do have control over this.

    In a nutshell, the ageing process of the skin is genetically determined but is largely influenced by environmental factors so we in fact can play a big role in how well our skin ages.  For most of us only about 10-15% of our ageing is influenced by genetics which means that 85-90% is extrinsic ageing and controllable.  Lifestyle choices greatly affect not only the appearance of the skin but the function of it as well as these factors can lead to the skin weakening which can lead to skin tears, potential difficulties in wound healing and then possible lengthy stays in hospital.

   What we must keep in mind is the skin ageing process does not begin from the age of 70 but in fact the protective skin qualities begin to decline much earlier…as early as 50 years old!

    What does this mean?  Preventive skin care intervention must be introduced at an earlier age to not only enhance the protective qualities of the skin but also maintain its integrity along with protecting our skin from the extrinsic factors such as UV exposure.

    There is a greater awareness of how the health care system is being impacted due to our ageing population and this in turn has increased the degree of research into understanding how not only ageing can affect the skin but the changes that can be expected to be seen.  

    This research has led to the coining of a new term – Dermatoporosis.

DERMATOPOROSIS

    This is described as a loss of function that ultimately leads to a breakdown in the protective mechanisms of the skin.  As individuals age, skin cells are also biologically ageing.

   There are a number of age-related skin changes of which l will highlight a couple.  We see an increase in moisture loss and susceptibility to microbial invasion due to a breakdown in barrier function.  This increase in moisture loss can make the skin appear flaky, rough, dry and dehydrated.  Collagen and elastin fibres are reduced decreasing skin strength and potentially slower wound remodelling.

   Furthermore, the sensation of touch is decreasing, which reduces or alters sensation leading to an increased risk of pressure damage.  I have only touched on some of the changes that take place and much of this is natural ageing however as mentioned earlier, extrinsic factors can also influence and perhaps make matters worse.

Image: Dermatoporosis with multiple lesions, old & recent (lesions begin to form as a result of skin breakdown and due to poor wound healing, new lesions form before old lesions have had a chance to heal completely)

So as we age the skin changes but what does this mean if the skin is injured?

INJURED SKIN

    When one is injured, the wound healing process kicks in.  This is a physiological process whereby an elaborate sequence of events occurs with the aim to end with a successful closure and bring back function to the tissues that were damaged.

    The typical stages of wound healing are inflammation, proliferation and maturation/remodelling.  These stages do not follow a specific timeline of days as the stages do overlap but these stages ideally are a progression of wound healing in a normal, orderly and co-ordinated sequence of events.

    However, for this to happen effectively, there needs to be a sufficient supply of oxygen, nutrients, hormones and the necessary cells required for this process.  The wound healing process can be delayed significantly due to many factors that are either intrinsic or extrinsic factors.

FACTORS AFFECTING HEALING

  1. Intrinsic Factors such as an individual’s health status.  The general health & wellbeing of a person can influence their ability to heal normally.  The nutritional status is also important and in fact malnutrition is common amongst the elderly population.  For example, a diet low in protein can lead to the epidermis thinning, reduce epidermal cell proliferation and decrease skin hydration.
  2. Extrinsic Factors include lifestyle choices such as smoking can decrease skin strength due to impaired connective tissue remodelling and also slow down the regeneration of the epidermis.  Mechanical stress such as scratching one’s skin due to the skin being dry and itchy or friction against bedsheets can create wounds.  The simple removal of a wound dressing can affect the integrity of the epidermis and lead to trans-epidermal water loss.

    And of course, Skin Health.  A common feature in older skins is dry skin.  When there is a loss of water from the epidermis, the skin is more likely to crack and lead to itching and bleeding.  When skin is excessively dry it can often become scaly or cracked, frequently seen on the legs of older people.

     Potentially, all wounds if not managed, can become chronic wounds.  An example is a skin tear which can be caused by mechanical stress.  A skin tear is an acute wound that has a high probability of becoming a chronic wound if not managed properly.

Image: Skin Tear

Image: Chronic Wound

With all this be seeing said, in Part 3 of Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management we will discuss Why Skin Care Matters…


This blog post is written by Dora Erdossy, Dermal Educator & Dermal Clinician. With over 25 years’ experience in the Skin Care Industry, Dora Erdossy has worked as a Dermal Clinician and Educator for some of the industry’s largest brands across Australia, USA and Europe. Dora’s passion for education saw her become an educator for dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute in 2001 where she taught in Australia, Vietnam, Fiji and New Zealand. In 2005, Dora moved to the United States where for the next 3 years, she championed the role of Senior Educator at dermalogica’s Los Angeles HQ.⠀

How Oncology Massage Differs From Other Specialty Massages

How Oncology Massage Differs From Other Specialty Massages

Massage therapy has existed for ages now. Still, as years and years go by, new specialty massage techniques continue to get introduced into the health and skincare terrain. Among the new additions is Oncology Massage, that kind of massage therapy that works wonders on cancer patients. 

In the rest of this posting, you’ll be seeing the name Amy Tyler a lot. Amy is a massage therapist who has a keen interest in oncology massage and scar tissue release. We thought she’d be just the perfect person to educate us on this specialty massage technique known as Oncology Massage. And guess what? She didn’t disappoint.

Let’s Discuss Oncology Massage for a Bit

You could describe oncology massage as a customized massage treatment given to a cancer patient. This is so because it is a very patient-specific therapy. This bodywork is a gentle, nurturing procedure that pays keen attention to the physical and emotional changes that occurred to a patient when their cancer treatment started. 

“It essentially adapts your massage technique to work safely with someone who has had a diagnosis for cancer and had treatment for cancer,” says Amy. 

Overtime, chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, or any other cancer-related treatment, drains a patient’s energy and brings about huge mental and emotional stress. Consequently, the patients may find it hard to relax or relate their feelings and emotions. This is exactly where oncology massage brings a solution. 

For most of the pain, if not all, oncology massage can be used to aid relief. Plus, it can help the patient reconnect with their emotions.

Oncology Massage in Comparison With other Massages

  • Oncology Massage vs. Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) differs from oncology massage in that MLD is more specialized for treating lymphoedema. MLD helps to move lymphatic fluids building up in a region of the body toward lymph nodes that can filter the fluid back into the right parts of the body. Oncology, on the other hand, is more suited for easing fatigue, pain, and emotional stress in people who have had or are still undergoing cancer treatments. Though it can also be used to prevent the cancer patient from developing lymphoedema, oncology massage doesn’t do this by moving fluid.

  • Oncology Massage vs. Scar Tissue Massage

Scar tissue massage and oncology massage borrow principles of modalities from each other. However, they have various differences, one of them being that scar release is more scar focused while oncology tackles the body as a whole. 

Scars can often become so tight that they create a pull that tells on a surrounding body part or muscle. As such, scar tissue massage aims at “softening the tissue around the scar, plus also softening the scar tissue itself,” Amy explains.

Oncology Massage stands out from scar tissue work in that it looks more holistically at the body. Whereas, scar tissue release is often more focused on a spot which is usually the area where scarring has occurred.

Finish

If you’re wondering whether oncology bodywork is painful, the answer is no. “With oncology massage, our aim is to absolutely cause no pain”. Amy Tyler says. In fact, rather than causing pain, this massage is carefully done to reduce it.  If you’re interested in learning more about this massage technique, you’ll gain loads from this oncology massage podcast 

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management

Ageing Skin: The Changes, Challenges & Management

PART 1    

    Ageing Skin.  When we think about this skin condition, it’s typical and normal for us to think about ageing skin from an aesthetic perspective.  We think about wrinkles, fine lines, flaccid skin, uneven pigmentation and overall dryness and dehydration.  We perhaps look at mature aged individuals and guestimate their age based on what we are seeing.  However, it is time for us to view ageing skin in a different way.

    Thanks to the generally high standard of living in most parts of the world, compared to previous generations, we are fortunately living much longer with better health.  For instance, in 1946 the life expectancy was 65 years old whereas today it is 80 years old.  In fact, approximately 36% of our population are over 65 years old.

   Despite the fact, we are living longer and for many of us it is a healthy journey, living longer does come with new challenges.  Ageing is linked to a series of physiological and pathological processes as the body overall is coping with multiple ageing organs and illnesses resulting in poly-morbidities.

    Among these challenges is skin ageing.   Ageing skin is associated with changes in its structure and functionality such as reduction in skin cell turnover and its potential for it to regenerate.  What can all this lead too?  Increased vulnerability and dryness which in turn can increase the risk of skin damage and infection.

   Skin is a vital organ and is one of the most important organs of the body for our health and wellbeing.  It is time for skin to be seen as an organ that must be taken care of not just for aesthetic purposes but to help maintain quality of life.

SKIN: THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE

    We know that skin plays a vital role in being the first line of defence as its main function is to provide protection and act as a barrier between the body and our external environment.  It is the largest organ of the body that also has additional functions such as maintaining body temperature, provides sensory functions in relation to temperature and touches as well as acting as a storage for water and fat stores.

    Our skin consists of 2 primary layers known as the epidermis and the dermis and even though I could provide endless information about these two fascinating layers, for the purpose of this article, l will keep it brief.

    The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin that plays two important roles.  In no specific order, it provides protection from bacteria and other microbes and it also helps keep moisture within the skin.  

    If our skin becomes injured and impaired, the body can become subjected to the invasion of outside agents, which will lead to irritation and sensitivity.  Furthermore, moisture can escape from the epidermis, known as trans-epidermal water loss and this can further impair barrier function.

   What is worth noting here is the pH of the skin, which ideally should be between the pH of 4 to 5.5.  The low pH of the skin creates what is known as the acid mantle which contributes to the barrier function of the skin.  When the skin becomes damaged, it can shift the pH towards alkaline, increasing the skin’s susceptibility to bacterial skin infections.

   The skin’s pH can also be increased by systemic diseases such as diabetes and even simple wound dressings can increase the skin pH which could potentially lead to further breakdown of the skin.

   The dermis often called the ‘true skin’, supports and nourishes the epidermis.  It contains important components of the skin such as blood vessels, nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands and the lymphatic system.  The dermis also contains collagen which helps to provide strength and structure to the skin along with elastin fibres that provide skin its elasticity allowing it to return to shape after it has been stretched.

   As we age, the production of collagen and elastin is reduced, which in turn leads to wrinkling, sagging and increased risk of skin tears.  So as much as skin is incredibly durable, it too like all other systems of our body, eventually succumbs to the inevitable effects of ageing.

   So how does the skin change as we age?  What are the contributing factors?  

   We will delve into this in Part 2…..


This guest blog is written by Dora Erdossy, Dermal Educator & Dermal Clinician. With over 25 years’ experience in the Skin Care Industry, Dora Erdossy has worked as a Dermal Clinician and Educator for some of the industry’s largest brands across Australia, USA and Europe. Dora’s passion for education saw her become an educator for dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute in 2001 where she taught in Australia, Vietnam, Fiji and New Zealand.

In 2005, Dora moved to the United States where for the next 3 years, she championed the role of Senior Educator at dermalogica’s Los Angeles HQ.