Skin Cancer Treatment in South Africa

Skin cancer is referred to as a condition where there has been observed an abnormal growth of skin cells.

The reasons could be several, however, the most common one is being the direct exposure to sunlight, which is also one of the main reasons for the cause of skin cancer worldwide.

One must bear in mind that, there is also a possibility that one might develop skin cancer in areas that are not exposed to sunlight. There are three types of skin cancer known as Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and Melanoma.

Symptomse for Skin Cancer

There are various reasons or causes for skin cancer to occur like

  • Having less Melanin in the skin. This is mainly because then, it means you have less protection from the harmful Ultraviolet rays.
  • Having multiple cases of skin burns as a child or as a teenager. This will increase your chances of developing skin cancer as an adult.
  • Too much exposure to the sun. This is mainly caused when you do not have the habit of wearing a wide-spectrum sunscreen when out in the sun or less clothing when sun-exposed.

When you observe certain abnormal conditions of the skin, it is the right time to see a doctor.

Factors affecting the cost of Skin Cancer

These could be wide and various. Some common factors that affect skin cancer cost is:

  • The kind of treatment you have been advised on
  • The stages of cancer that have developed
  • The facility where you are being treated
  • The destination where your treatment is being done.
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About the Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It typically affects people with lighter skin tone. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of destructive malignant skin cells. It occurs when unrepairable DNA damage that occurs in the skin cells triggers a mutation that makes them multiply rapidly and form malignant skin tumors.

Skin cancer is mostly caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds. Skin cancers have a limited potential to spread to other parts of the body and may become life-threatening if not treated on time. They are common and can be effectively treated but the treatment of some forms of skin cancers can be difficult. However, early diagnosis and treatment can increase the survival rate.

Types of Skin Cancer

The following are the three common types of skin cancers:

  • Basal cell skin cancer: This type of skin cancer is present in sun-exposed areas of the skin. Basal cell skin cancer rarely spread to other body parts (metastasize) and do not cause death. They are very common and easily treatable.
  • Squamous cell skin cancer: These skin cancers are also common but less common than basal cell cancers. They can metastasize but the metastasis rate is very low. They are also non-life threatening and can be treated easily.
  • Melanoma: This type of skin cancer originates from the pigment that gives color to the skin called melanocyte. It is less common and more dangerous than the first two types of skin cancer. However, if melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is almost curable. Advanced stage melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and is hard to treat. It can be life-threatening as well.

There are also some other types of skin cancers such as Merkel cell skin cancer, Kaposi sarcoma skin cancer and lymphoma of the skin, but these are rare. Although, some of these are aggressive skin cancers and has a high risk of recurrence.

Skin Cancer: Symptoms

The typical skin cancer symptoms vary from patient to patient. The symptoms also vary depending on the type of skin cancer that the patient has.

However, basal and squamous skin cancers can have some common symptoms, which include:

  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to scars
  • Raised reddish patches that might be itchy without pain
  • Small, pink or red, shiny, translucent, pearly bumps, which may have blue, brown or black areas
  • Raised growth and lumps with a lower area in their center, which might contain abnormal blood vessels spreading out
  • Open sores that do not heal, or come back after healing
  • Rough or scaly red patches, which may crust or bleed

Melanoma skin cancer can have some different types of skin cancer symptoms. There is an ABCDE rule guide that explains the melanoma symptoms:

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark that does not match the other half.
  • B is for Border: The edges are ragged, irregular, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same throughout the mole and may include different shades and patches of brown or black, pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot or skin growth is larger than 6 millimeters across, although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E is for Evolving: There is a change in size, shape, color, or surface of the mole.

How is Skin Cancer Treatment performed?

Several effective skin cancer treatment modalities are available, which is selected depending on the type of skin cancer that the patient is suffering from. Your dermatologist will choose the best suitable treatment for you depending on the type of skin cancer, location, your age, general health, and condition (whether the cancer is primary or a recurrence).

Some of the common treatment options for skin cancer include the following:

Electrodesiccation (EDC)

Destruction of skin cancer by electrodesiccation and curettage is known as EDC therapy. This treatment is fast, easy, and less expensive in comparison to other skin cancer treatment options. In this treatment, the area of the affected skin is numbed with a local anesthetic and scraped repeatedly with a sharp instrument called curette. After that, the edge is cauterized with an electric needle.

Surgery

Surgery is a more complicated and expensive procedure than EDC. During this skin cancer treatment, the surgeon first numbs the affected area with a local anesthetic. Then the malignant skin tissues are fully removed. Lastly, the edges of the wounds are closed with sutures. Surgery has a greater cure rate and the scar produced is usually more cosmetically acceptable than EDC procedure.

Mohs surgery for skin cancer is a microscopically-controlled treatment performed for common types of skin cancer. During this treatment, the surgeon keeps on removing layers of tissues and see it under the microscope to look for cancer cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is an option when the patient is not suitable for surgical treatment such as the elderly. The treated area cannot be tested to be sure that the entire cancer is gone and the radiation scar looks worse over time.

Targeted Drug Therapy

In the case of basal cell skin cancer, some gels, creams, and solutions can be used to reduce cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs such as fluorouracil (5-FU) can be given orally to the patient to treat skin cancer. It works by stimulating the body's immune system to produce interferon, which attacks the cancer cells.

Alternative Therapy

Alternative therapy includes the use of herbs, vitamins, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage. Alternative therapy, however, cannot be used alone to treat skin cancer completely. It can only be used to reduce the severity of the symptoms.

Recovery from Skin Cancer Treatment

  • One important part of skin cancer recovery is to watch carefully for the chances of recurrence. Even after skin cancer surgery, some cancer cells may remain in the body and manifest themselves later on.
  • You are advised to visit your doctor regularly after skin cancer treatment for continuous monitoring and recovery check. You will be advised on how to manage long-term side effects of treatment and improve the overall quality of life.
  • There are specific precautions that you need to take if you’ve had a surgery for skin cancer. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions at the time of discharge. Your wound will be covered with a pressurized dressing for at least 24 hours after the surgery. Every precaution must be taken to prevent the wound from an infection.
  • Your surgeon will tell you when to take a bath after the surgery. You must take all precautions to keep the wound dry for the initial few days. You will be shown or told the proper way to clean the wound and apply a dressing after the discharge.
  • You may experience some level of redness and swelling after the surgery, which may remain for a few weeks to months. The extremity of redness and swelling depends on the depth of the wound. You must watch the wound carefully every day to check for signs of infection. Fever, extreme pain, drainage from the wound, enlarged lymph nodes, and redness are some of the signs of infection. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these signs of wounds infection.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the health care infrastructure of South Africa / Why should opt for South Africa as a destination for your medical treatment?
Like most countries, hospitals in South Africa are based upon public and private healthcare systems. There are three main levels of healthcare based upon the payment method of the patient.
  • The full paying patients are those who usually prefer to be treated by a doctor working in the private sector. They can also be funded by an external source. Many non-South African citizens also prefer this treatment service.
  • Fully subsidized patients are those who have been referred from a Primary Healthcare Service Hospital.
  • Partially subsidized patients are patients whose costs are subsidized based on the amount of their income.
The public healthcare system has three main centers for health under its wing:
  • Clinics - These are run by trained professionals and nurses. They can serve as the first point of contact for a patient.
  • Community Healthcare Centre - This is a bigger setup, complete with full-fledged services and doctors and nurses.
  • Hospital - A patient usually gets here after a referral from a clinic or community health center. One can also go in for emergencies. A hospital provides various services like performing surgery and treating chronic illnesses.
Hospitals in South Africa are gearing up to tackle major illnesses and to provide better treatment options. The South African government is also working to introduce policies and towards accommodating more patients from all across the world. It is a great country to find affordable treatment options.
What are the conditions of the hospitals in South Africa? Are they JCI certified? What is the quality of the support staff in the hospitals
The Joint Commission International (JCI) accredits and certifies most health care organizations and programs all around the world. Joint Commission International Accreditation and Certification is recognized as the global leader for health care quality of care and patient safety.
Are the doctors/surgeons in South Africa of the best quality?
Doctors associated with Medigence are of the best quality. We hope to give our patients a pleasant experience and the best doctors we can find. Since South Africa has a lot of requirements in the field of healthcare, the country attracts doctors from all over the world to contribute their services. This can help to ensure that even you receive the best quality of doctors.
What is the process for obtaining a medical visa in South Africa?
One can apply for a visa to South Africa for a period of 90 days. The High Commission of India can then help one decide for how long a visa can be extended. This usually differs from person to person. The Medical Visa allows a person to stay for a maximum of six months with a valid visa. After this, one can go to the FRO office ( Foreigner’s Registration Office ) or FRRO (Foreigner's Regional Registration Office) and request for an extension. Do note that the validity of a visa begins on the day it is issued by the High Commission of India and not on the date of departure. Applications for visas will not be accepted more than 30 days prior to departure.
What support services does MediGence provide in the United Arab Emirates?
MediGence enables you to plan and manage your medical decisions better. These are some of our services offered:
  • Expert Opinion
    We help you seek an Expert Opinion on your diagnosis and treatment from an experienced team of doctors at MediGence and specialists from a reputable hospital.
  • Hospital Recommendation
    We recommend a hospital or a healthcare institution that is best suited for you, based on your ailment and its criticality.
  • 360-degree Hospital Review
    We give you a transparent and holistic view of the hospital and its infrastructure, accreditation, facilities, and expertise to give you confidence.
  • Doctor Validation and Communication
    We share a comprehensive profile of the treating doctor and also arrange a call to clear queries regarding treatment if needed.
  • Options to Choose From
    Based on your choice of destination and other preferences, we provide you multiple options with respect to hospitals and doctors to choose from.
  • 24X7 Patient Care Support
    A dedicated patient case manager stays in constant touch with you to help you at every step of the decision-making process and resolve queries that you may have.
  • Transparent Treatment Cost and Other Expenses
    We give a clear and accurate indication of the total cost of treatment including treatment, stay, meals, and other expenses.
  • Visa Assistance
    We provide and help prepare documentation for visa approval and coordinate with the embassy to expedite the visa process.
  • Accommodation Arrangements
    We propose to you a choice of accommodation based on your preference such as long stay, short stay, or luxury properties.
Which are the best cities in South Africa for medical treatment?
While many cities are striving to create some of the best hospitals in South Africa, Durban, Lenasia, and Cape Town already have some very good hospitals for treatment in South Africa. Located in Durban, Ethekwini Hospital and Heart Centre is a reasonable and affordable hospital in South Africa. Life Kingsbury Hospital in Capetown provides a holistic healing environment for patients. One can also opt for the Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital in Lenasia. This hospital has been running for nearly 30 years now and various medical facilities can be availed from here.

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