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Melanoma: The Negative Impact

By: Morag Currin
Posted: August 1, 2011, from the August 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Surgery to remove lymph nodes from the underarm or groin area may damage the lymphatic system and slow the flow of lymphatic fluid in the arm or leg. Lymphatic fluid may build up in a limb and cause swelling, or lymphedema. Adjustments need to be made when giving skin care treatments to redirect away from areas of removed lymph nodes and to reduce pressure.

Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, is sometimes used to treat melanoma. People with melanoma may receive chemotherapy via mouth or injection. Either way, the drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.

Through the use of isolated limb perfusion on an arm or leg, chemotherapy drugs are put directly into the bloodstream of that limb. The flow of blood to and from the limb is stopped for a short period of time, allowing most of the drug to reach the tumor directly. Most of the chemotherapy remains in that limb.

Skin side effects of chemotherapy. The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on the specific drugs and the dose. In general, anticancer drugs affect cells that divide rapidly, especially the cells of the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. When white blood cells are very low, a client is more prone to infections, and if the platelets are low, a client is more prone to bruising or bleeding more easily.

Skin care professionals who are not aware of these lab counts and the side effects of chemotherapy should not be working with cancer patients while they are undergoing chemotherapy, because these two side effects can cause some serious issues.