Recognize and Prevent Skin Cancer
Edited by Lor777, Charmed, Ephraim, Eng and 1 other
People often notice changes in the general appearance of their skin, including lumps and bumps that were not always there. This can lead to worries about skin cancer. On one hand, the worrying is understandable. The primary known cause of skin cancer is continued exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. So, if you have spent a lot of unprotected time in the sun, you are at greater risk.
However, The vast majority of skin changes that develop with age are not skin cancers. More often they are seborrheic keratoses (grayish, flat, scaly, raised lesions), warts, or noncancerous skin "tags," tiny flaps of skin called papillomas. There are many types of skin cancer, but the three most common are listed below:
Three Most Common Types of Skin Cancer
- 1Basal Cell Carcinoma:The most common type, which affects more women than men, and usually occurs over the age of 40. It first appears as small sores that do not heal. Over weeks to months the sores enlarge and may metastasize (spread) to other areas. It is a slow-growing cancer that forms in the basal cells of the outermost layer of the skin. If treated early, it is usually completely curable. If untreated, it can ultimately metastasize to bone and cartilage.Advertisement
- 2Squamous Cell Carcinoma:The second most frequent type, which is more common in men, and usually occurs after the age 60. It fist appears as small sores that do not heal. This cancer grows more quickly and may metastasize to other areas. Out of 2,500 deaths annually from non-melanoma skin cancer, 75 percent are from squamous cell carcinoma.Advertisement
- 3Malignant Melanoma:The third most common and the most deadly type of skin cancer. This is cancer of the melanocyte, the pigment of skin. Unlike most other types of skin cancer, malignant melanoma can spread through the lymph system and the bloodstream. That's why it is very important that it be detected in the earliest possible state. Over 70 percent of cases of early melanoma can be cured. However, the prognosis is not as favorable for cases that are treated in later stages. Other factors that influence the outcome of treatment include age and general health.
People who live in sunny climates and those with fair skin, freckles, blond or red hair, or blue eyes are at greatest risk. However, people with dark skin also can develop skin cancer. Some people with many moles (nevi) that contain abnormal (dysplastic) cells have an increased risk of developing melanoma.
Other factors that increase risk of skin cancer include exposure to artificial sources of UV radiation (such as commercial tanning devices and photoherapy for certain skin disorders, concurrent use of certain drugs or cosmetics, immunosuppressive treatment, AIDS, hereditary disorders, and exposure to xrays, uranium and a variety of chemicals.
Skin cancer forms without causing any symptoms of illness. Therefore, it's extremely important to be aware of the signs, especially in people with know risk factors. Check your skin once a month for any irregularities. If you have any suspicious growths on your skin, have them checked by your doctor. A skin biopsy, in which part or all of the tissue from a mole or suspicious growth is removed for analysis, may be required. Biopsy is the only definitive test.
The "hallmark" sign of melanoma is a change in the size or shape of a mole. "ABCD" is an abbreviation used to make it easy to remember the four basic signs of possible melanoma:
- Asymmetry: The shape of one half of a mole doesn't match the other.
- Border: Notched, ragged, or blurred edges may be present.
- Color: The color is uneven and shades of brown, black, or tan are present. Areas of white, red, or blue may also be seen.
- Diameter: There is change in size. The mole may be flat or raised, oval, or round.
Other signs include a mole that scales, oozes, bleeds, or changes in the way it feels. Some moles will become itchy, lumpy, hard, swollen, or tender. Melanoma may also appear as a new mole.
Watch for Skin Irregularities
- Have a smooth, shiny, or waxy surface.
- Are small in size.
- Bleed or become crusty.
- Are flat or lumpy, red, or pale.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
- 1Stay out of the sun as much as possible.Stay out, especially, if you have fair skin, a history of sunburns, or a current diagnosis of skin cancer.
- 2Wear Protective Clothing.Gradually build up exposure to sunlight if you can't avoid sun exposure.
- 3Avoid or limit sunlight exposure between 11 am to 1 pm.That's when the sun's rays are the most direct.
- 4Some medications can greatly increase the likelihood of sunburn.
- 5ALWAYS use sun block.You should also use sun block on overcast and cloudy days.
- 6Avoid commercial tanning booths.
- 7Check your skin regularly.Advertisement
Tips Tricks & Warnings
- Types of protective clothing are long sleeves and hats.
- Check all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications for precautions about sun exposure.
- Sun protection factor (SPF) is how sunscreens are rated; the higher the SPF number, the greater the protection.
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.