Your skin has countless bumps, blemishes and color variations that define your everyday appearance. Most skin features are completely normal details that grow with you through the years. Pinpointing a cancerous area, however, is important to everyone's health. Many lesions are very subtle by nature, and people continue with their everyday lives without realizing that there's an issue at hand. A rare skin cancer, referred to as atypical fibroxanthoma or AFX, may appear as you grow into the senior years. It's important to understand this ailment in order to deal with it in a timely manner.
Who is at risk for Atypical Fibroxanthoma?
Although women can be afflicted with this skin cancer, men are significantly at risk because of extensive outdoor activities. Men simply work more in the field than women do at this point. Consider the other risk factors that may contribute to your cancer possibilities, such as:
- Between the age of 71 and 99 years
- Previous radiotherapy treatment
- Extensive sunlight exposure throughout a lifetime
It is possible for AFX to affect teenagers and people in their 20s, but this ailment is mainly isolated to older people. Their skin has simply seen more damage over the years. Sunscreen recommendations have only been a mainstream phenomenon since the 1960s. As a result, seniors may have been exposed to a lot of ultraviolet radiation when they were children.
Where should I check for AFX lesions?
AFX lesions are commonly found on the most sun-exposed parts of the body, such as:
However, it's not uncommon to find AFX on other areas across your torso. If you tanned on the beach or in a tanning salon in the past, lesions can virtually appear anywhere. Look for abnormal skin in other locations, including:
Researchers also note that patients with other skin-cancer types can see AFX developing in those treated sites. The skin is already damaged in those areas so it's possible that AFX develops from mutated tissues.
What is the physiology of Atypical Fibroxanthoma?
Atypical fibroxanthoma is different than other skin cancers. Instead of beginning at on the top layer of the skin, scientists believe that the deeper layers are initially affected. Although this fact might be cause for concern, AFX is treatable with experienced doctors by your side. Take a look at the other features that are inherent to AFX lesions, including:
- Bright-red skin patches
- Dome shape
- Possible bleeding
AFX is one of the most obvious skin cancers on your body. These lesions develop so quickly that a few weeks may pass by before they grow into large sizes. Because of their rapid growth, pinpointing AFX and promptly treating it is critical to your health.
Why do I need a skin cancer specialist for AFX?
A general practitioner isn't always the best choice for an atypical-fibroxanthoma diagnosis because the condition is very similar to other cancers, such as:
- Malignant melanoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
You don't want to treat the wrong type of cancer so it's critical to work with experienced staff who know the key differences between the lesions. Patients don't often realize that AFX is a possibility because the patches may not be painful at first. Watching their development is usually the only indicator of a problem before a professional sees you during an appointment.
How is Atypicial Fibroxanthoma diagnosed?
AFX that displays an ulcerated appearance is usually a good indicator that the cancer is present. However, a more definitive diagnosis must be made. Doctors will usually perform a biopsy, which is a procedure that removes part of the lesion for scientific analysis. The process doesn't hurt because doctors will numb the area beforehand. It's ideal to have a biopsy as soon as possible in order to treat the area before the lesion grows any larger or more uncomfortable. Because some lesions may bleed, the biopsy reduces the chances of this occurrence.
What is the typical prognosis for AFX?
Patients who're diagnosed with AFX will rarely deal with life-threatening issues. This cancer type can be completely removed from the skin. It doesn't spread to other body parts, which is the main concern with typical cancers. You may notice some complications with AFX lesions that occur near the ear, eye or nose, however. These areas are generally more challenging to treat because of their positions. Consult with your doctor so that you can create a treatment plan that works to your benefit. Being cancer-free is possible when you're dealing with AFX.