The Truth About Skin Cancer: Part One

When it comes to understanding skin cancer, the public suffers a big misconception that the diagnosis isn't a big deal. Many even forget that it's still a life-threatening cancer. A lot of folks believe that if their dermatologist finds a cancerous growth on their body, that the follow-up is nothing more than a simple in-patient, painless procedure.

Anyone in the Facebook group can share that this isn't the case. Far from it. In early April, we posed the question, "What do you wish others knew to change the misconception that "It's just skin cancer"? Fifty-eight of you spoke up-about the surgeries, the scarring and the threat to life that is skin cancer. Here's what you wished more people understood.

Skin cancer can metastasize

"It can travel anywhere else within your body …"

Once melanomas become metastatic, they can travel anywhere in the body-including the lungs, liver and brain. This surprises most people, as melanoma is caused by the sun as well as tanning beds, and these organs are never exposed to light. When melanoma is spreading, symptoms can include trouble breathing or swelling of the liver. These complications are undeniably very serious.

"My skin cancer is now in my lungs. I'm having an MRI of my head to see if it's in the brain now, too. I was told the treatments aren't working and melanoma is spreading. Feeling so devastated and afraid. And you say "just skin cancer"?? Oh my... how horrible it is."

"I lost my dad to melanoma of the liver. So I take it seriously."

Surgeries can be intense and painful

"I have had five skin cancer surgeries …"

Many people diagnosed with skin cancer undergo surgeries to have the cancerous areas removed. These surgeries can be intense and largely painful. On top of that, because most initially affected areas are external, patients have to learn to accept a post-op appearance, which can negatively affect self-image.

"I came within a few millimeters of losing my eye, and maybe my life. I did lose my whole right cheek, and ended up with the ultimate facelift when they pulled my throat up to my eyeball!"

"I have had five skin cancer surgeries at Huntsman Cancer Institute... . None of them was a walk in the park. Wound care after is a challenge besides!!!"

Check out part two of the truth about skin cancer from our community members.

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