Our skin is the largest organ of the body, and for many of us, it needs tender love and care to feel our best. However, for some women of colour facing cancer, it can come as a surprise to see keloid scars develop following surgery. But what exactly are keloids, and should you speak to your Healthcare Provider about them?
A keloid is a raised scar that often grows deeper and more prominent over time. While keloids are not harmful and non-cancerous, they may lead to the skin being tender, tight or results in a limited range of motion and discomfort. Keloids develop when scar tissue continues to form even after the skin healing process ends and are more common in people with African, Asian, and Hispanic ancestry. When already facing a cancer diagnosis, keloids can be unpleasant to manage on top of any accompanying stress.
There are a few things you can do pre-operation to avoid the development of keloids. First, before your appointment, it's helpful to think about what to expect from treatment by asking yourself the following:
• Is easing keloid pain or itch vital to you?
• Will flattening or softening the keloid help you feel better?
• Is the visibility of the scar something that will bother you?
Asking yourself these questions can help equip you with talking points to bring up during your appointment. For example, suppose you are not typically comfortable speaking with medical professionals; this is an excellent opportunity to gauge their responsiveness to your concerns. If you are satisfied with how your care team answered, this is a perfect opportunity to bring up other issues. But, if the Healthcare Professional does not have the expertise to answer your questions comfortably, you may ask for a referral to a specialist, like an Onco-Dermatologist.
Whether you are worried about developing keloids or loosing your hair, it is okay to be worried about appearance-related changes that can come from cancer treatment—and it is important to address them if these concerns are important to you. Having peace of mind and feeling supported during treatment are important factors on the road to recovery.