What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
Last updated: December 2022
Many people with skin cancer feel like others think it’s no big deal. We have all heard how, if you get any kind of cancer, skin cancer is the one to get. But, what those people don’t realize is that there are sometimes health issues that far surpass what they think is “what to get.” When it comes to skin cancer, what’s the worst that can happen?
The good news
I want to preface this by saying I’m not trying to be a downer. I’m not looking to scare anyone, or be negative. There are plenty of good facts to share. Like how with early detection, skin cancer is usually treatable, with an excellent outcome. In fact, according to American Academy of Dermatology's Spot Skin Cancer website, "The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), can be cured if caught early and properly treated."1
This is why it is crucial to keep up with your skin and note any changes you see. Regular dermatologist visits add to the importance of early detection.
What’s the worst that can happen?
This leads me to a story I recently found out about. I have a cousin who has an amputation. It’s been 20 years, and since we weren’t close in the past, I never really knew why. He posted an update recently, and told the story of how he’d had squamous cell carcinoma. Due to being misdiagnosed, the leg got infected. This went straight to the bone, and after four years of trying to save the leg, it was removed.
While being misdiagnosed was to blame for the outcome, it does show how skin cancer can lead to other serious health risks if not treated. My cousin did nothing wrong, and saw his doctor about the problem, which is what everyone should do. It’s horrible that the outcome was him losing his leg.
The point is, the next time someone says that it’s just skin cancer, or that’s the kind to get, you might educate them on the health risks. Risks like
- Spreading to surrounding skin, bones, tissue, and organs
- Death (over 15K people die each year from squamous cell carcinoma)
Again, this isn’t meant to be a downer. It’s simply to help educate others who think that skin cancer is not that bad. Of course no one wants any cancer at all, and many cancers are far worse news. But it’s not nothing, and should never be treated as such by anyone.
As mentioned, my cousin did what was right - he had things checked out. Early detection is a life saver. Do keep in mind though, if you’re unsure that your doctor is guiding you in the right way, get a second opinion. There’s no harm in being sure. But the most important thing is to check your skin regularly, and get under a dermatologist’s care, especially if you have had skin cancer in the past or have a family history of skin cancer.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?