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Basics of Skin Cancer by Kathleen Province

By at July 24, 2013 | 12:01 pm | Print

Basics of Skin Cancer by Kathleen Province

Skin cancer is defined as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. Currently, skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with as many as 3.5 million cases getting diagnosed annually, just in the United States. The annual rates also seem to be increasing yearly, primarily among white male and females. It is now estimated that half of Americans over the age of 65 will develop some type of skin cancer in their life at least once, which has become a major public health concern. There are three types of skin cancer, and each is named after the type of skin cell from which it arises. They are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common forms of skin cancer. These cells are found at the base of the outer layer of the skin. Basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancer cases in the United States, and is also the most common type of skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, and it tends to metastasize, meaning that it spreads. Basal cell carcinoma usually presents itself as a raised, pinkish bump, sometimes with visible blood vessels. Many times basal cell carcinoma can be mistaken for a sore that does not heal. This form of skin cancer is easily treatable and rarely leads to death if found in time. Squamous cell carcinoma is slightly more dangerous, and it shows as a rapidly growing, thick reddened patch of skin. Melanoma cancer is much more intense than basal and squamous cell and can be diagnosed using the ‘ABCDE’ method: Asymmetrical, Borders, Color, Diameter, and Evolving. In cases regarding melanoma skin cancer, death is common if not found in time. In general though, the most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change to the skin, especially regarding a new growth or sore that won’t heal. Skin cancer may start as a small, smooth, shiny, pale, or waxy lump, as well as a firm red lump. Sometimes these bumps on the skin can bleed or develop a crust. If one notices any strange bumps on the skin they should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

There are many things people can do to prevent themselves from having to deal with skin cancer. The main things people can do are simple things such as putting on sun screen, and re applying it while out in the sun. People can also wear layers to protect their skin from the ultraviolet rays all together, and in addition sun glasses and hats can protect the face from those wrinkle causing rays. The primary and most widely known cause of skin cancer is over exposure to ultraviolet light. It doesn’t matter if the ultraviolet light is coming from a tanning bed or the natural sun, both damage the skin and greatly increase ones chances of getting skin cancer. Some other risk factors that increase someone’s chance of getting skin cancer are, naturally light skin, a family history if skin cancer, personal history of skin cancer, exposure to sun, light eyes, and light hair. When ultraviolet rays come into contact with the skins lower layers, it causes the skin to make more melanin, which then moves to skins surface, which then results in the tan people strive for. Although tan skin looks good, it doesn’t indicate good health, in fact, the tan that people get from being outside or going tanning is the body’s response to cell injury.

References:

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skin-cancer-facts

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

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