What causes skin cancer you say? The first thing that pops into people’s head is sun exposure
The truth is, indeed the main cause of skin cancer is excess exposure to ultraviolet radiation, not only from the sun but also artificial ones such as those from tanning beds.
Skin cancer is actually the most common cancer and if detected early enough the most treatable.
Skin cancer forms in the tissue of the layers of the skin. The following two cancers are the more common types of skin cancer. Cancer that starts in squamous cells, thin flat cells that make up the top layer of the skin, is called Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Cancer that starts in the lower parts of the epidermis from the round basal cells underneath the squamous cells is called Basal Cell Carcinoma.
These two types of cancer rarely spread to other parts of the body. Some of the following factors may increase the risk of developing these two types of skin cancer: skin color (the lighter the complexion the higher the risk), skin that freckles or burns easy, skin that is difficult to tan, blue or green eye color, blond or red hair, and a weak immune system.
These cancers often develop in areas with high exposure to the sun such as the head, neck, and arms but can develop anywhere in the body.
If you notice any flat, firm, pale area or small, raised, pink, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps it may be cancer and should contact your health provider promptly. Your physician may do a quick scan over the skin or may take a step further and perform a biopsy.
During the biopsy, the physician may take part or the entire growth to determine if it’s cancer, the stage, type, size, and from there recommend a treatment.
Melanoma is also a type of skin cancer that starts in the Melanocytes which are responsible for making the pigment of the skin. This type of skin cancer is rather rare and can spread to other parts of the body and is also more aggressive.
The risk factors to develop Melanoma are basically the same as previously mentioned adding a few more that include having several large or many small moles and having a family history of unusual moles.
Things to monitor on moles you have are changes in size, color, shape, if it itches, oozes, or bleeds.
Diagnosis is the same as the other skin cancers and treatment depends on the thickness of the tumor, how quickly it is spreading, where it is on the body if it has spread to the lymph nodes, and if there was any bleeding or ulceration in the area.
Although sun exposure is necessary to stay healthy, too much can be bad. Take precautions to prevent skin cancer. Wear sunblock if you are expecting to be under the sun for long periods of time or wear protective clothing. Avoid too much exposure to the sun as well as artificial UV radiation.
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