7-Week Integrative Oncology Program | Now Accepting New Patients

Brio-medical cancer clinic - health

Skin Cancer

Integrative Treatment Options for All Stages of Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Holistic Treatment Center

Skin cancer is by far the most frequently diagnosed cancer in America today. There are over 2 million new cases each year, and it’s estimated that over the past three decades, the number of people who have had skin cancer is higher than the number for all other cancer cases combined.

But that doesn’t mean high numbers of people are dying from the disease. In fact, only one type of skin cancer — which accounts for only 3% of all cases — is responsible for the majority of deaths: melanoma.

When it’s caught early, doctors have more success treating skin cancer, including melanomas, which is why it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of this disease.

Fortunately, those who are diagnosed with skin cancer have lots of treatment options, including conventional and natural therapies. As a result, individuals can choose how they want to approach healing, whether they want to take the traditional route, use integrative medicine, or focus on natural and non-toxic therapies.

Read on to learn more about skin cancer causes, risk factors, signs to look for, and treatment options.

What Is Skin Cancer?

Cancer occurs when the body’s cells grow uncontrollably. With skin cancer, an abnormal growth starts in skin cells. Most skin cancers start in the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Usually, skin cancers develop on areas of skin that are exposed to sunlight, such as the ears, nose, face, neck, chest, and hands. As such, doctors believe an overexposure to sunlight or damaging UV rays from tanning booths is the main cause of skin cancer.

However, sun exposure isn’t the only risk factor. And the most deadly type of skin cancer — melanoma — doesn’t normally appear on sun-exposed areas.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors

With skin cancer, you do have some control over your level of risk. Extensive lifetime exposure or occasional intense exposure without sunscreen are risk factors, so simply protecting yourself from the sun and avoiding tanning beds can help to reduce your chances of developing cancer.

However, there are many other factors that you can’t control, such as:

  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Red hair or blond hair color
  • A large number of moles on the skin or certain types of moles
  • A family history or personal history of skin cancer
  • Older age
  • Being immunocompromised due to taking immunosuppressive drugs
  • Actinic keratosis, which is a precancerous lesion often found on sun-exposed areas of the body

Types of Skin Cancer and Early Warning Signs

There are several different types of skin cancer, but most people are affected by the three main types.

1. Melanoma

Melanoma is a dangerous type of skin cancer because it’s more likely to spread to other parts of the body, which then makes it harder to treat. The vast majority of cases are known as cutaneous melanoma. They develop in the skin cells that produce skin pigment, so you’ll be able to see the cancer on the surface of your skin.

Mucosal melanoma starts forming inside the body in mucosal tissue, which is the tissue that lines body cavities and hollow organs. Ocular melanoma occurs in the eyes. These melanomas are much rarer, and mucosal melanoma can be difficult to detect because you won’t necessarily see the site where the cancer starts to develop.

What Does Cutaneous Melanoma Look Like?

Cutaneous melanoma is characterized by the appearance of an irregular brown, black, or red spot. Another sign to look for is an existing mole that starts to grow in size or change its shape or color.

Most melanoma cases in the U.S. (about 70%) are a type of cutaneous melanoma known as superficial spreading melanoma. In this case, the cancer starts developing in a pre-existing mole.

About 15% to 30% of cases are nodular melanoma — this type of skin cancer is aggressive and develops quickly. It might look like a blood blister or a raised, discolored growth, and, usually, it grows fast over a period of weeks or months.

Another 4% to 10% of cases are lentigo maligna melanoma, which is most common among older women with fair skin. This type of skin cancer doesn’t spread as quickly as other melanomas, but it’s still important to seek treatment right away. It looks like a large, flat lesion, and it’s likely to show up on the face.

Acral lentiginous melanoma makes up anywhere from 2% to 8% of cases in fair-skinned individuals and 60% of cases in darker-skinned individuals. It will appear as a relatively large dark spot on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or beneath nail beds.

2. Basal Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is the most common type, and fortunately, it’s generally easy to treat. It forms in basal cells, which are found at the bottom of the epidermis. This is the layer of the epidermis, where new skin cells form and then push older cells to the skin’s surface, where they die.

What Does Basal Cell Carcinoma Look Like?

This type of skin cancer is characterized by skin changes, such as a lump or discolored skin that feels firm or scaly. It may also manifest as a sore that doesn’t want to heal.

While slow-growing, this cancer can eventually spread and invade other tissue, such as underlying bone and muscle, so it’s important to get it treated.

3. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Where basal cells are the deeper layer of the epidermis, squamous cells are the upper layer. They’re constantly shedding, making room for new, healthy cells. However, if cell growth gets out of control, the cells can start to become cancerous.

What Does Squamous Cell Carcinoma Look Like?

Squamous cell carcinomas will usually appear as scaly patches of skin. They can also include lumps that grow or sores that don’t heal, similar to basal cell carcinoma. This skin cancer will spread faster than basal cell carcinoma, but only about 5% of cases metastasize.

Treatment Options for Skin Cancer

What treatment is right for you depends on the type of skin cancer, whether it’s spread or not, and what you are comfortable with.

Sometimes, the cancer is removed during the initial skin biopsy. If there's still cancerous tissue after the biopsy, traditional treatment options include:

  • Cryosurgery: which is the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the tissue so it falls off
  • Excisional surgery: which is where a doctor cuts out the cancerous tissue
  • Mohs surgery: which is when a doctor will remove the growth one layer at a time to try and preserve underlying skin

If the skin cancer has spread — which is more likely with melanomas — traditional treatment might include chemotherapy drugs such as dacarbazine and temozolomide. However, neither of these drugs has been proven to be very effective. Also, they come with side effects that can impact the overall health of the patient. There are targeted therapy drugs as well, but they only work with certain patients.

There are also proven natural and holistic therapies for melanoma.

Light-based therapy is a non-toxic treatment option that can help patients with stage III or stage IV cutaneous metastatic melanoma. Acai oil has also been shown to increase melanoma cell death when combined with photodynamic therapy. Other holistic treatments that are known to support the body’s healing processes or offer anti-cancer benefits, such as curcumin IV therapy and ozone therapy, can also be used as part of an integrative or natural healing plan for skin cancer.

Can Skin Cancer Be Treated Holistically?

There are several evidence-based holistic treatments for skin cancer that can be used to help the body fight the disease and reduce the side effects of traditional treatments.

While minor surgical treatments might be the easiest way to treat certain skin cancers, some individuals choose to use holistic therapies as well to improve their state of health and possibly prevent a recurrence. Others opt for holistic and integrative medicine as an alternative to toxic treatments for skin cancer.

If you want to learn about your options for treating skin cancer holistically, reach out to the caring team of holistic physicians and specialists at Brio-Medical. We can discuss your options based on your unique situation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

References for skin cancer:

[1] MD Anderson authors. “Skin Cancer.” MD Anderson Cancer Center, https://www.mdanderson.org/cancer-types/skin-cancer.html. Accessed September 12, 2022.

[2] US Department of Health and Human Services. “Skin Cancer as a Major Public Health Problem.” The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer. Washington (DC): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2014.

[3] MD Anderson authors. “Melanoma.” MD Anderson Cancer Center, https://www.mdanderson.org/cancer-types/melanoma.html. Accessed September 12, 2022.

[4] Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, CDC. “What Are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 18, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/risk_factors.htm. Accessed September 12, 2022.

[5] MD Anderson authors. “Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin.” MD Anderson Cancer Center, https://www.mdanderson.org/cancer-types/skin-cancer/squamous-cell-carcinoma-of-the-skin.html. Accessed September 12, 2022.

[6] Mayo Clinic Staff. “Skin Cancer.” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/skin-cancer/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20377608, December 5, 2020.

[7] Domingues, Beatriz et al. “Melanoma treatment in review.” ImmunoTargets and therapy vol. 7 35-49. 7 Jun. 2018, doi:10.2147/ITT.S134842

[8] Austin, Evan et al. “Laser and light-based therapy for cutaneous and soft-tissue metastases of malignant melanoma: a systematic review.” Archives of dermatological research vol. 309,4 (2017): 229-242. doi:10.1007/s00403-017-1720-9

[9] Monge-Fuentes, Victoria et al. “Photodynamic therapy mediated by acai oil (Euterpe oleracea Martius) in nanoemulsion: A potential treatment for melanoma.” Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology vol. 166 (2017): 301-310. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2016.12.002

[10] Mirzaei, Hamed et al. “Curcumin: A new candidate for melanoma therapy?.” International journal of cancer vol. 139,8 (2016): 1683-95. doi:10.1002/ijc.30224

Scroll to Top