Comprehensive Guide of Skin Cancer Treatment in India

Comprehensive Guide of Skin Cancer Treatment in India

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Skin cancer is cancer that forms commonly due to exposure to the sun. It has three major types: melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. According to studies, approximately 324,635 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed worldwide each year. Skin cancer treatment costs in India range from USD 2117 to USD 6051. The curability of oral cancer is around 90%. A patient has to stay in the hospital for 4 days and a total of 21 days as an outpatient in India after skin cancer treatment.

Understanding Skin Cancer: Different Types and Causes

The body’s largest organ is the skin. It is made up of several layers like sweat glands, sebaceous glands, nerves, blood vessels, etc protected by two major layers called epidermis and endodermis. The epidermis consists of three layers: squamous cells, basal cella, and melanocytes. The most common type of skin cancer begins in the squamous and basal cells.

Most skin cancers can be triggered by overexposure to UV or ultraviolet rays from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. UV rays can damage the skin by causing sunburn. This damage builds up over time and leads to skin texture changes, premature aging, and cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common form of skin cancer. It usually develops in fair-skinned people but can affect anyone.

  • It often looks like a round flesh colored, with a pinkish skin patch or bumps that look like a pearl.
  • It usually develops after frequent exposure to the sun or indoor tanning.
  • It is common for bcc to appear on the arms, neck, and head, though it can form on any other body part like the legs, chest, and abdomen.
  • BCC can grow deep and penetrate bones and nerves, causing disfigurement and damage.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): After BCC, SCC is the most common kind of skin cancer. Light-skinned people are mostly affected by this but it can affect anyone with darker skin tones as well.

  • It appears as scaly patches, re-opening sores after healing, and firm red bumps.
  • It usually develops on skin that is frequently exposed to the sun like the face, arms, rim of the ear, and back.
  • It grows deep in the skin and causes disfigurement and damage. Early detection and treatment can prevent it from spreading deeper into the skin.
  • Some people develop scaly, dry spots or patches called actinic keratoses on their skin. It is pre-cancerous that can turn into SCC.

3. Melanoma: It is often called the most serious form of cancer because it is prone to spreading. Melanoma can develop within an already present mole on the skin or can appear as a dark spot suddenly that seems different from other spots.

Warning signs for melanoma can be checked through ABCDEs of melanoma-

  • A or Asymmetry– if one half is different than the other in a spot
  • B or Border– the spot has a poorly defined, irregular, or scalloped border.
  • C or Color– The spot appears in varying colors in different areas like shades of brown, tan, black, blue, red, or white.
  • D or Diameter– The size is greater than 6mm at the time of diagnosis. They can be smaller as well.
  • E or Evolving– The spot looks different in shape, color, and size than the others.

4. Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma: T cells help in preventing infections. This type of cancer develops in the white blood cells. They are present on the skin as a first line of defense. It can be of two types-

  • Mycosis fungoides– It is the most common kind of CTCL. This worsens gradually. It appears like a rash for years at the earliest stage. At this stage, it looks like psoriasis or eczema and is often difficult to diagnose.
  • Sezary syndrome– It is a more aggressive type of CTCL. It appears in the form of eczema with red and swollen skin in most areas of the body. The skin feels sore, extremely itchy, and hot.

5. Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP): It is a rare form of skin cancer. It develops in the middle layer or dermis of the skin, grows gradually, and does not spread to other body parts. If untreated, DFSP can grow deep into bone, muscle, and fat.

6. Merkel Cell Carcinoma: It is a rare form of skin cancer and is also called neuroendocrine carcinoma. It usually appears to be a bluish-red nodule or flesh-colored. It often develops because of a weak immune system and years of sun exposure in older people. It can appear on the neck, face, and head.

7. Sebaceous Carcinoma: It is a rare form of skin cancer and is aggressive. It forms in the eyelids and the sebaceous glands on the skin. A tumor that is round, painless, and firm develops on the lower or upper eyelid.

Symptoms and Causes of Skin Cancer

There are various signs and symptoms of skin cancer:

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma-

  • A waxy or pearly bump
  • A flat, brown or flesh-colored lesion
  • A scabbing or bleeding sore that heals but returns.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma-

  • A red and firm nodule
  • A flat crusted and scaly surface

3. Melanoma-

  • A large spot that is brown and has darker speckles
  • A mole that changes in size, color, or bleeds
  • A small lesion that has an irregular border and has parts of pink, blue, black, red, and white
  • Pain in the lesion that burns or itches
  • Dark lesions on the soles, fingertips, palms or toes or the mucous lining of nose, vagina, mouth or anus.

4. Merkel Cell Carcinoma-

  • Shiny and firm nodules just below the hair follicles and skin
  • Mostly found on the neck, head, and trunk

5. Sebaceous gland Carcinoma-

  • It originates from the oil glands of the skin
  • Commonly appears as painless and hard nodules
  • It can develop anywhere but most commonly appears on the eyelids

Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is caused when mutations occur in the DNA of the skin cells. Due to this, the skin cells grow out of control and form a mass called a tumor or cancer.

  • Long hours spent under the sun leads to exposure to UV rays
  • People who get sunburnt or have a sunburn history
  • People who live in high altitudes or sunny regions
  • People who use tanning beds
  • People born with light-colored eyes, red or blond hair with fair or freckled skin
  • People who have irregular or many moles
  • A history of skin cancer in the family
  • People who have had organ transplants
  • People who have actinic keratosis (rough, dark pink to brown, scaly patches)
  • People who take medications that weaken or suppress the immune system
  • People who have undergone UV light therapy for treating psoriasis and eczema

How Does Skin Cancer Look Like?

  • An existing mole that is changing or a mole that is completely different than the others.
  • A growth that forms in the shape of a dome
  • Scaly skin patches
  • A sore that does not heal or disappear and is recurrent.
  • A black or brown stripe can be observed

Precautions for Skin Cancer

  • Seek shade when appropriate: The rays of the sun are strongest from 10 am to 3 pm and being exposed to the sun during this time can increase the risk of skin cancer. If one’s shadow is shorter than oneself, one should seek shade.
  • Wearing sun-protective clothing: Clothes such as lightweight long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, etc. can help decrease the risk of skin cancer. If possible, one should buy clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF)
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen: Sunscreens with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more should be applied. Broad-spectrum sunscreens provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Being cautious near sand, water, and snow: All of these reflect the harmful rays of the sun that increases the risk of sunburn and hence, ultimately cause skin cancer.
  • Avoid tanning beds: They emit 3 times more UV rays than the sun. These layers penetrate deep into the skin and cause skin cancer and premature aging. Using self-tanning products can reduce the risk of this.
  • Performing regular self-exams: If one notices any suspicious or unusual spots, sores, patches, changes in skin color, itching, bleeding, etc.

Treatment Options for Skin Cancer in India 

Treatment Options Cost in USD
Curettage and Electrodessication Enquire Now
Surgical Excision $2500 – $3000
Mohs Surgery $2000 – $3000
Radiation Therapy $3500 – $5500
Chemotherapy (per cycle) $300 – $2000
Cryosurgery $3500 – $4000
Photodynamic therapy (for a single treatment) $100 – $4000
Biological Therapy Enquire Now
  • Curettage and electrodesiccation: In this, the area to be treated is first numbed. Then the tumor is scrapped off with a thin, long, and sharp looped end on one side (curette). Then an electric needle (electrode) is used to remove any residual cancer cells. It is a good treatment option for superficial (only in the top skin layer) squamous cell and basal cell cancers, along with some pre-cancerous tumors.
  • Surgical excision: In this, the entire tumor is removed along with a margin of healthy tissue with a surgical knife. The incision is closed with stitches. The excised tissue is sent for analysis to make sure there is no tumor left behind after excision.
  • Mohs surgery: In this, one layer of visible skin cancer is removed and checked for the presence of tumors. It is repeated until all of the cancerous tissues have been removed from the subsequent layers. It procedure removes as little healthy tissue as possible. It can remove cancer from the face, genitals, fingers, and cancers just under the penis skin.
  • Radiation Therapy: High-powered energy beams are used to destroy cancer cells. This can be an option for skin cancers that can’t be removed by surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Medications like lotions and creams that contain anti-cancerous substances are used to kill cancer cells that are confined to the top layer of the skin when applied directly. Systemic chemotherapy may be used to treat cancers that have spread to other body parts.
  • Cryosurgery or freezing: In this, some early, small, and actinic keratoses may be frozen with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) by the doctor. As the dead tissue thaws, it falls off.
  • Photodynamic therapy: In this, the skin cancer cells are destroyed through a combination of medications and laser light. This makes the cancer cells light-sensitive.
  • Biological therapy: In this therapy, the immune system of the body is used to destroy cancer cells.
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Diagnostics Test Costs for Skin Cancer in India 

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between non-cancerous and cancerous skin cancer. A dermatoscope (magnifying glass) is used to examine the area closely. A skin sample is taken from a locally numbed suspected area and sent for laboratory analysis.

Diagnostic Tests Cost in USD
Biopsy $50 – $300
CT Scan $60 – $120
MRI $60 – $180
CLSM Enquire Now

1. Type of Biopsy Tests: 

  • Incisional Biopsy: In this, a surgical knife is used to remove a small portion of the suspected area. The entire thickness of the skin is removed. Then the area is stitched closed.
  • Excisional Biopsy: The entire abnormal area is removed. A margin of surrounding healthy tissue is also removed. The area is stitched shut.
  • Punch Biopsy: A special instrument is used to remove a small circular sample from the abnormal area. Stitches may not be required if the area is small and will heal on its own.
  • Shave Biopsy: A surgical instrument is used to slice or shave off the top layer or epidermis of the skin. The blood vessels are cauterised to stop any bleeding during the procedure. The wound forms a scab and heals on its own without the requirement of stitches.
  • Sentinel Node Biopsy: This procedure is done to check the spreading of cancer. It can show if cancer has broken from the primary location and spread to lymph nodes. Sentinel lymph nodes are the first ones to get affected by metastasis of cancer. In this, a tracer material is injected in the patient to detect the affected sentinel lymph nodes and hence, are removed and sent for testing.

2. Computational Tomography (CT Scan): Axial CT Scan or CAT is an examination that utilizes x-rays and computers to form detailed images of the insides of the body. It is hardly ever used for basal cell cancers and for squamous cell cancers (if they are detected early). It costs USD 60 -USD 120

3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): In this, magnetism and radio waves are used to produce images of the insides of the body from all angles and show the soft tissues very clearly. It is very useful for detecting non-melanoma skin cancer that affects areas like the eyes. It costs USD 60- USD 180

4. Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM): In this, laser light is used to create images layer by layer of tissues without harming the skin. It costs USD

Factors Affecting Skin Cancer Treatment in India

  • Exceptional medical professionals: The doctors and surgeons are highly skilled and have an immense level of expertise. The doctors discuss the procedure and risks of skin cancer treatment.
  • Renowned hospitals: Hospitals in India are equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and the latest technology for major and minor surgeries. Specialized intensive care units.
  • Affordable cost: The cost of treatment, transportation, medication, post-operative care, etc. are affordable compared to other countries. Medical procedure packages are also available that include hotel charges, flight charges, etc.

Stages wise Treatment Options for Skin Cancer in India

>>Stage 0: It is also called in situ melanoma. This type of cancer is confined to the top skin layer or the epidermis, which means cancer has not spread to the second skin layer or the dermis. It is not more than 2mm. It is not considered to be invasive melanoma. Cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. The treatment option can be surgery. It costs USD

It is also called TisNOMO. 

  • Tis: The tumor is in situ and is found only on the top layer.
  • NO: The melanoma has not spread to the lymph nodes
  • MO: The melanoma has not spread to the other regions in the body

>>Stage 1: It is present in the epidermis and dermis. The tumor is 2 mm thick and may not or may have ulceration. Cancer may not have spread to lymph nodes. It is not invasive. Ulceration occurs when the epidermis covering the part of primary melanoma is not intact. This can only be seen under a microscope. The treatment option for this is wide local excision.

  • Stage IA: The tumors formed are lesser than 0.8 mm and are without ulceration
  • Stage IB: The tumors are larger than 1mm but less than and/or tumors up to 2mm, without ulceration.

>>Stage 2: Cancer is in the epidermis and dermis layers. Ulceration can be seen but there is no evidence of spreading to the lymph nodes or any other body parts. The is a high risk of local recurrence for distant and regional metastases. The treatment options include surgery, sentinel lymph node biopsy, and immunotherapy.

  • Stage IIA: Cancer is 1.01 to 4.0 mm thick without ulceration.
  • Stage IIB: The tumor is 2.01 to 4.0 mm thick but there is ulceration.
  • Stage IIC: The tumor is larger than 4.0 thick and has ulceration.

>>Stage 3: In this, the tumor has spread to the regional lymph nodes or in-transit deposits are formed but there may not be metastasis to other body parts. It has spread beyond the local or primary tumor to the nearby lymph nodes.

  • Stage IIIA: The tumor is no larger than 2mm thick and the small tumors have spread to the lymph nodes nearby. Ulceration may be present in the primary tumor.
  • Stage IIIB: The tumor is not more than 4mm thick. The primary tumor may not be present but cancer has spread to surrounding lymph nodes or small regions close to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage IIIC: the primary tumor cannot be seen and cancer has spread to two or more lymph nodes or to the smaller regions in the skin or to the clumped lymph nodes.

>>Stage 4: In this, cancer has spread beyond the original site of the tumor and beyond the regional lymph nodes to further areas in the body. The distant regions include lungs, lymph nodes, bone, liver, brain, and/or intestines.

  • The level of serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) may or may not increase. However it is an important evaluation as it indicates the burden of the tumor and possibly how aggressive the tumor is. It reveals the amount of cancer in the boy. A higher LDH level means a higher level of cancer in the body. The treatment options include wide local excision, systemic therapies, radiation therapy, etc.

Survival Rate of Skin Cancer Treatment in India

There is a 95% survival rate for the 5-year mark for people diagnosed and treated before melanoma spreads to the lymph nodes. If it spreads to the lymph nodes, the survival rate is reduced to 68%. If cancer spreads to distant organs, the survival rate reduces further to 30%.

Top Skin Cancer Treatment Hospital in India

>>Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta

Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta

Apollo Hospital has been accredited by NABH and JCI credentials. It has a 250-bed capacity. It has technologies like 3 Tesla MRI, 120 slice CT angiogram, 4-D Ultrasound for 4-dimensional sonography, Digital Fluoroscopy, Gamma Camera, etc. It also houses The Minimal Access Surgery Centre (MASC) center of excellence.

>>Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad

Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre, Faridabad

Sarvodaya Hospital and Research Centre have been accredited with NABL and NABH credentials. It has a 500-bed capacity and 65 ICU beds. It has technologies like 128 Slice CT scans, 500 MA X-Ray, 1.5 Tesla MRI, Mammography facilities, Cancer Centres, etc. Special oncology centers for all kinds of cancer have been a recent addition.

>>Yashoda Hospital, Malakpet

Yashoda Hospital, Malakpet

Yashoda Hospital has been accredited with NABL and FICCI credentials. It has 1710 bed capacity across 3 of its own hospitals and 3 cancer institutes. It houses high-tech labs and modular operation theaters, Digital X-Rays, Ultrasonography, CT 64 Slices MRI, etc.

>>Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali

Max Super Speciality Hospital, Vaishali

Max Super Speciality Hospital has been accredited with NABH and NABL credentials. It has a 370-plus capacity and 15-plus specialties. 14 high-end modular operation theatres, 3D (4D) imaging, 3.0 Tesla digital boundaries MRI, Da Vinci Xi Robotic System, etc.

>>Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi

Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi

Indraprastha Apollo Hospital has been accredited with ISO and JCI credentials. It has technologies like 64-Slice Scan coupled with data acquisition, Spect-CT, Pet-CT, Fibroscan, NovalistTx, HDR-Brachytherapy, DSA Lab, etc. It has online doctor consultations and rehabilitation facilities.

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Top Doctors India for Skin Cancer Treatment

1. Dr. Hitesh Dawar:

Dr. Hitesh Dawar | Best Surgical Surgical Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS, DNB

  • He has fellowships in Gujarat Cancer Research Institute, Rizzoli Institute of Orthopaedics, National Centre for Spinal Disorders, and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
  • He has memberships from IOA, DOA, IMSOS, and MNAMS
  • He has successfully provided treatment for primary and metastatic tumors of the spine, soft tissues, bones, etc.

View Detailed Profile

2. Dr. Arun Goel:

Dr. Arun Goel | Best Surgical Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS, MS

  • He has a fellowship from Rotary Cancer Hospital and AIIMS
  • He is a member of the IASO, ASI, IHPBA, AMASI, IAGES, ESSO, ISO, EUSOMA, and IASG associations.
  • He has successfully performed procedures like colorectal cancer treatment, hemicolectomy, Whipple’s procedure, breast cancer treatment, etc.

View Detailed Profile

3. Dr. Priya Tiwari:

Dr. Priya Tiwari | Best Medical Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS, MD, DM

  • She is a member of ESMO, MASCC, ASCO, and IJSPRO
  • She offers cancer treatments through biological therapies, targeted treatments, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy.
  • She has successfully treated diseases like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, meningitis, stomach cancer, etc.

View Detailed Profile

4. Dr. Vivek Mangla:

Dr. Vivek Mangla | Best surgical Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS, MS, MCh

  • He has memberships from SSAT, IASG, ISOT, ASI, ACRSI, and IAGES.
  • He has certifications from FALS, FAIS, and FACRSI
  • He has successfully performed procedure hemicolectomy, stomach cancer treatment, colorectal treatment, Whipple’s procedure, etc.

View Detailed Profile

5. Dr. Rajender Kaur Saggu:

Dr. Rajender Kaur Saggu | Best surgical Oncologist in India

Qualification: MBBS, MS

  • She is a member of ASI, ABSI, and IASO
  • She has successfully treated diseases like brain, lung, cervical, oral, breast, colon, and ovarian cancer.
  • She has been a Registrar in the Breast Unit at Lady Hardinge Medical College

View Detailed Profile

Frequently Asked Questions

Before going in for skin cancer treatment in a hospital, one should consider factors like location, diagnostic services offered, intensive care units, post-operative care services, accreditation of the hospital, type of hospital (government or private), etc.

One should consider the following factors before choosing a doctor qualification or expertise of the doctor, the technology used, the surgery type, patient feedback, survival rate, etc.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the melanocytes (cells that contain melanin, the pigment that gives skin its characteristic color). Most melanomas still have cells that produce melanin and hence, the tumors are usually black or brown. But some melanomas do not produce melanin and hence, appear tan, white, and pink. Although melanomas can develop anywhere, the common areas for melanoma to develop are the chest, back, neck, soles of feet, and legs. It is less common than other types of skin cancer but is more harmful as it spreads to other body parts if not diagnosed and treated early.

  • Scarring (can form keloids or hypertrophic scars)
  • Hypo- Hyperpigmentation (loss or excess of pigment creating lighter or darker patches)
  • Change in skin texture (advanced stage skin cancer may be treated with radiation that leaves skin tightened)
  • Lymphedema (it is the swelling that occurs in the arms and legs when lymph nodes are removed or damaged)
  • Infection at the wound site (the wound may be infected and the pus draining can be painful, red and hot to touch)
  • Hematoma (it is bleeding under the skin surface)
  • Pain and numbness (the damaged nerves cause pain, numbness, and tingling sensations)
  • Damage to bones, muscles, and nerves (sometimes skin cancer grows deep into the muscle and it has to be removed)
  • Metastasis (it happens when cancer spreads to other regions of the body)

Immunotherapy as a treatment option will be discussed by the doctor depending on the stage of skin cancer.

  • Immunotherapy may work when other treatments fail to work effectively like chemotherapy and radiation therapy or may help other treatments to work better.
  • It causes lesser side effects when compared to other treatments.
  • It helps the patient to stay cancer-free for a long time (it has specialized cells that fight recurrent diseases).
  • However, side effects like chills, fever, fatigue, diarrhea, weight gain, swelling, etc. can be seen in immunotherapy. A patient’s body may get used to it and the tumor might come back.

Too much UV radiation from the sunbeds or the sun can lead to DNA damage in the cells. If there is enough DNA damage in the cells, it causes the cells to grow uncontrollably and form a tumor, and ultimately skin cancer. UV light has two types:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength and causes skin aging and tanning.
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and causes skin burning, sunburn, and blistering in extreme cases.

There are different types of skin cancer with varying signs, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes they resemble other skin conditions. Many skin cancers tend to appear on the areas of the body that get a lot of sun exposure. But skin cancers can appear in areas of the body. Some common ways skin cancer may appear are:

  • An expanding, new, or changing spot, bump, or growth on the skin.
  • A sore that doesn’t heal or bleeds even after several weeks
  • A rough or red scaly patch that might bleed or crust
  • A growth that resembles a wart
  • Other spots or moles on the skin that have new or changing color, size, or shape.
  • A mole with abnormal or irregular borders, odd shapes, or different colored areas.

References:

Recommended Reads:

Skin Cancer Treatment: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Brain Cancer Treatment: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Brachytherapy: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Hemicolectomy: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Kidney Cancer Treatment: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Last modified on blank at May 29, 2024

Reviewed By :- Urvi Agrawal
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Guneet Bhatia

Guneet Bhatia is an avid reader, healthcare writer, and is currently Director of Patient Care Department, MediGence. She has also been featured on many prominent Healthcare portals such as IBTimes, HCIT Expert, Clinician Today.

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