Diagnosis and Staging of Skin Cancer


Skin cancer is the unusual growth of skin cells that often develop on the skin exposed to sunlight. There are three types of skin cancer basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin (Leiter et al., 2020). Skin cancer shows as lessening on the exposed skin parts of the body including the face, hands, neck, lips, ears, and scalp. The diagnosis of skin cancer involves an examination of the skin. The doctor examines the skin to determine whether the available skin change qualifies to be a symptom of the disease. Further evaluation requires a skin biopsy or the removal of a sample of suspicious skin for testing (Leiter et al., 2020). The laboratory testing also determines the specific type of skin cancer presented by the patient. To determine the stage of the skin cancer, practitioners perform other various tests such as CT scan, MRI scan, PET-CT scan, lymph node biopsy and ultrasound, and sentinel lymph node testing (Leiter et al., 2020). Blood tests and genetic tests for melanoma can also be performed to classify skin cancer in various stages.

Various systems such as TNM provided by the American Joint Commission on Cancer (AJCC) are used to stage skin cancer. Classification of basal cell and squamous skin cancers is done by considering three factors. One factor is the size of the tumor and whether it has grown deeper into body tissues or structures such as bones (T) (Leiter et al., 2020). Other considerations are whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes (N) and other distant parts of the body (M). The staging of melanoma also takes a similar system but under different conditions. One element is the depth or thickness of the primary tumor (Leiter et al., 2020). Other considerations are the location of melanoma, whether it has spread to the lymph nodes and in which numbers, and spreading to other parts of the body. The three types of skin cancer are categorized into stages 0 to 4 with 0 being the safest stage because cancer has not spread to many parts of the body (Leiter et al., 2020). In stage 4, cancer has spread to various parts of the body including blood.

Complications, Side Effects, and Control

Skin cancer when detected and treated at the late stages can also pose certain complications to the patient’s health. One of the most possible complications is the reoccurrence of the disease. Cancer treated at the fourth stage has a high possibility of coming back (Leiter et al., 2020). The abnormal cells can grow in the same areas or worse, grow in different tissues. Cancer can also develop in form of metastasis where it grows nerves, muscles, and other parts of the body. In melanoma, complications could include infection of the skin lessens, pain in the sores, and skin necrosis.

Treatment of skin cancer can cause many side effects which require proper control. Some of the side effects include infection of the sores, body pain, nerve damage or numbness of affected organs, bruising or swelling, and fatigue (Leiter et al., 2020). Doing exercise is one of the ways to control fatigue in the body. Walking or doing simple exercises helps to prevent the body from draining in the treatment process. Other measures to control physical effects are using coolers to prevent hair loss, over-the-counter painkillers, and washing hands to avoid infections. Psychological effects can be minimized by having strong family support and therapies.

Risk Factors and Mortality Rate in America

Several factors increase the chances of contracting skin cancer in the US. One of the factors is having fair skin regardless of skin complexion. Fair skin provides less protection to the body against UV radiation (“Skin cancer,” 2022). A history of blistering sunburns at a young age could also make the skin less defensive against the sun. Other elements include excessive exposure to radiation or sun, high-altitude or sunny climate, and having many skin moles (“Skin cancer,” 2022). Families with a history of skin cancer are also likely to suffer from this condition. Other people at risk are those with weakened immune systems especially those with AIDs.

Skin cancer has a higher yearly survival rate and lower death rate. Skin cancer patients, estimated in five years have a 95% survival rate (“Skin cancer,” 2022). It means that these patients have higher chances of living for at least five years before death. Specifically, Melanoma contributed to the highest rate of death where at least 20 people die every day (“Skin cancer,” 2022). Yearly, the skin condition is approximated to cause 7180 deaths (Leiter et al., 2020). Compared to other types of cancers, skin cancer has an average rate of mortality. Lung cancer leads to the highest death rate in the United States.

American Cancer Society Services

American Cancer Society (ACS) provides education and support by availing significant information about skin cancer. The institution hosts a website with the necessary information for cancer patients (“Skin cancer,” 2022). Skin cancer victims can visit the website to learn about various types of the disease, and ways of treatment. The website further offers lifestyle recommendations to ensure the patients remain healthy. Offline, the organization provides services such as transport, treatment services, medical equipment, wigs and prostheses, lodging, social services, and financial programs (“Skin cancer,” 2022). I would recommend social services because cancer patients need more psychological and emotional support to keep living. I would also suggest transport or rides to treatment because some patients risk missing treatments due to lack of transport. There are also lodging services where the organization hosts cancer patients who cannot pay for hotels during their treatments (“Skin cancer,” 2022). Such services are quite recommendable because some cancer patients may be traveling far from home to receive patients and may not afford to pay for hotels.

Utilization of Nursing Processes

Stage 0 of skin cancer is easily treatable because cancer has not grown deeper into the skin. Thus, the doctor performs an excision to remove the lesions and treat the affected area (Sibeoni et al., 2020). A careful nursing process follows where the nurses ensure the patients receive the proper care for faster healing. In this stage, do not do much as the doctor releases the patients after the surgery. However, the nurses provide pain management interventions such as medicines and physiotherapy for treated areas (Sibeoni et al., 2020). The nurses also do follow-ups to ensure that the patient is doing well even after going home. Patients are advised to avoid excessive sun exposure to prevent cancer from reoccurring.

In stage 1, the cancer has grown a little deeper and about two centimeters but only around the area with lessons. A wider excision is done by the doctor to remove the cancer cells. The nurses then monitor the operated area to prevent infections. They regularly assess the wound to monitor signs of pus, odor, or color (Sibeoni et al., 2020). They also provide pain-relieving medications and drugs to prevent infections. The nurses also offer education about the avoidance of sun exposure. At this point, the nurse recommends physiotherapies and family support. Stage 2 treatment is similar to that of stage 2 especially if the lessons have not gone deeper into the skin. The nurses however conduct an overall body assessment to find the affected regions (Sibeoni et al., 2020). In addition to nursing care given in stage 2, the nurses here encourage open communication with their patients (Sibeoni et al., 2020). Family support, diet change suggestions, and light exercises are recommended for the patients. The nurse also makes regular contact with the patients to learn about their progress.

In stage 4, the tumors have spread to distant lymph nodes or other parts of the body. More serious treatment and care are provided to the patients. Nurses provide medications to manage the side effects of radiotherapies (Sibeoni et al., 2020). In addition to other nursing services provided in stage 3, the nurses also show compassion, emotional support, respect, and dignity. The patients are educated about cancer support groups, and ways to manage the disease and prevent further infections. Dietary changes, wearing of sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves are suggested. Patients are encouraged to avoid tanning beds and the ABCDE mnemonic.

Patients in the last skin cancer stage require more nursing care. While they are receiving treatments, nurses monitor the patients closely for unexpected developments. The nurses understand that on top of chemotherapies, the patients are also taking other several types of drugs that may alter their physical, emotional, and psychological status (Sibeoni et al., 2020). Thus, more support especially emotional in terms of communication is delivered. The nurses also offer social support where they familiarize themselves with the patients and encourage them with treatments.

Contribution of Liberal Arts and Science Studies to Nursing Practice

Liberal arts and science studies positively contribute to the needed skills in the nursing process. Mathematics prepares nursing students for patient treatment delivery. They use fractions, division, rations, additions, and algebraic equations to monitor patient intakes and medications (Jefferies et al., 2018). Mathematics knowledge is used to calculate IV drip rates, medication dosages, caloric input and outputs, and drug titrations. Social sciences equip students to effectively associate with patients from different social contexts. Other than interacting with patients, the nurses learn how to cope with patients’ families. They educate the families on how to cope with the patients’ illnesses; offer needed support, and continue living (Jefferies et al., 2018). Nursing competencies are critical to positive healthcare delivery. Today, nurses interact with patients from diverse societies and thus must learn how to properly accommodate their differences. Social studies also provide ethical knowledge needed by nurses to operate within morally upright boundaries.


Physical sciences deliver the nursing knowledge needed for physical examinations. The learning nurses are educated on how to adequately examine the physical body of patients for suitable treatment (Jefferies et al., 2018). Furthermore, the nurses gain the skills needed to advise patients regarding living positive and healthy lifestyles. Science studies are significant for training nurses because they require the skills and knowledge to deliver adequate and safe patient care. The nurses use critical thinking skills to make major care delivery decisions. Indeed, critical thinking is necessary for the application of evidence-based practices (Jefferies et al., 2018). Furthermore, nurses need the most important knowledge about patient bodies. Science studies provide undergraduates with knowledge about body structures and composition. They also learn how the body functions to enable them in the treatment process.


Jefferies, D., McNally, S., Roberts, K., Wallace, A., Stunden, A., D’Souza, S., & Glew, P. (2018). The importance of academic literacy for undergraduate nursing students and its relationship to future professional clinical practice: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today, 60, 84-91. Web.

Leiter, U., Keim, U., & Garbe, C. (2020). Epidemiology of skin cancer: Update 2019. Sunlight, Vitamin D and Skin Cancer, 123-139. Web.

Sibeoni, J., Marc, M., Lagaude, M., Orri, M., Verneuil, L., & Revah-Levy, A. (2020). Nursing care in dermatologic oncology: A qualitative study. Journal of Cancer Education, 35(6), 1149-1157. Web.

Skin cancer. (2022). American Cancer Society. Web.

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