Skin Cancer Management – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Geriatric Disease Management Glossary

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, most often caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. There are several types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While skin cancer can affect people of all ages, older adults are at a higher risk due to cumulative sun exposure over their lifetime.

How is skin cancer diagnosed in older adults?

Skin cancer is typically diagnosed through a skin examination by a dermatologist. In older adults, regular skin checks are crucial, as the risk of developing skin cancer increases with age. Suspicious moles or lesions may be biopsied to determine if they are cancerous. Additionally, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI may be used to determine the extent of the cancer if it has spread beyond the skin.

What are the treatment options for skin cancer in geriatric patients?

The treatment options for skin cancer in older adults depend on the type and stage of the cancer. Common treatments include surgery to remove the cancerous cells, radiation therapy to target and destroy cancer cells, and chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. In some cases, targeted therapy or immunotherapy may be recommended to help the immune system fight the cancer.

How can skin cancer be prevented in older adults?

Preventing skin cancer in older adults involves taking steps to protect the skin from UV radiation. This includes wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, wearing protective clothing such as hats and long sleeves, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and avoiding tanning beds. Regular skin checks and self-examinations can also help detect skin cancer early when it is most treatable.

What are the potential complications of skin cancer in the elderly?

Skin cancer in older adults can lead to various complications, including the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, disfigurement from surgery to remove cancerous cells, and emotional distress from the diagnosis and treatment process. Additionally, older adults may be more susceptible to infection or delayed wound healing following skin cancer treatment.

How can healthcare providers support older adults with skin cancer?

Healthcare providers play a crucial role in supporting older adults with skin cancer by providing education on prevention strategies, conducting regular skin checks, and offering treatment options tailored to the individual’s needs. Additionally, healthcare providers can offer emotional support and resources to help older adults cope with the physical and emotional challenges of skin cancer. Collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, including dermatologists, oncologists, and mental health professionals, can ensure comprehensive care for older adults with skin cancer.