Everything You Need to Know About Skin Cancer
Considering that the skin is the largest organ of the human body, the fact that skin cancer is one of the more common cancer types should hardly be a surprise. However, it could be news that skin cancer is declared so when some malignant cells are found lounging in the outer skin layer. As for the frequency of occurrence, a barometer is that a million people are diagnosed with this condition every six months in the United States alone.
As dangerous as it is, preventing the dreaded disease can be easily accomplished by shielding the skin from UV (Ultraviolet) rays. As for its effect, Skin cancer can be seen in two manifestations. Which are:
This is the deadliest form of skin cancer, usually observed on the back and legs of men and women respectively. Of the various types of skin cancer, Melanoma is likelier to be the disease that people at ages between 45 and 50 have.
The signs of skin cancer in the case of Melanoma is a couple of raised or flat dark patches on the skin. This could be on the back or legs at first, but it will spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
An amazing 10% of the total skin cancer patients show the skin cancer symptoms that correspond with the symptoms that suggest the Melanoma type of skin cancer. Eight people, out of every hundred people with Melanoma lose their lives every year in the United States. A fact made scarier by the data from the National Cancer Institute that records a dramatic increase in Melanoma incident rate by 84 percent after 30 years since 1974.
Cases of non-melanoma types of skin cancer are seen in squamous and basal cell carcinoma. In the basal cell carcinoma types, lesions develop around the head or the neck of people aged above 40 years. This skin cancer condition is not usually a fatal one, but it spreads across the body very easily and bleeds on little contact too.
People who are aged above 50 years are susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma due to skin damage from the skin. Among all types of non-melanoma skin cancer, this type is the most common form, and it appears as flat and red or scaly and raised patches on the skin.
Both types of non-melanoma skin cancer are ultimately mild versions of melanoma skin cancer, even though they can leave their marks on the patient.
What does skin cancer look like?
The effects of ultraviolet rays on the skin extend to the inner layers of the skin, provoking the production of more melanin to protect the skin by darkening the affected area. Tans, on the other hand, lead to wrinkles and do not protect the skin in any way from skin cancer.
People with darker skins, like Africans, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, are less likely to develop skin cancer since the melanin they have protects them from the sun’s rays. However, that also means they’ll also be unable to detect if they have been infected with diseases like melanoma.
What causes skin cancer?
Most cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays. Tanning beds and sun lamps have the same effect as plain exposure to these sun rays, per the advice of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In their words:
“While skin cancer has been associated with sunburn, moderate tanning may also produce the same effect.”
For people that enjoy a little tanning once in a while, this can prove to be a problem. Indeed, the sun produces both UVA and UVB rays, both harmful on impact with the human skin even though UVB can be successfully defended against with little sunscreens.
Unfortunately, sunscreen negatively affects the skin by inviting these harmful rays deeper into the skin if it penetrates beneath the outer skin layer. This brings a result that’s actually worse than not using sunscreens at all. That’s not to say sunscreens are all ineffective.
Nothing proves the effectiveness of good sunscreens more than the fact that men are more likely to get skin cancer than females are since men are not usually keen on wearing protective gear from the sun’s rays like clothing or sunscreen, even though more men work outside. While both men and women face the sun for recreation in equal numbers, men over the age of 40 years get skin cancer per the data provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation, with 6 out of every 10 melanoma skin cancer patients fitting the profile of a white male above the age of 50.
To guard against that, you can apply sunscreens every 90 minutes to replenish the protective layer. Also, the choice of the right sunscreen has to be a deliberate one, many popular brands have been found guilty of penetrating deeper into the skin and harming the skin before exiting the skin alongside urine.
To choose the right sunscreen, look out for the SPF value, and hold out for an SPF value of at least 30. Remember to reapply every 90-120 mins and apply at least 30 mins before going out.
What are the signs of skin cancer
Unlike other types of cancer, -skin cancers are usually curable if they are detected earlier. That is why noticing the skin cancer symptoms before they take root is essential. Fortunately, the cancers grow in visible places most of the time, so looking out for any changes in the skin – especially with existing moles – is usually enough for a check, so far you occasionally ask for the help of your family, friends or doctor with the places that are harder to monitor.
During the checks, almost nowhere should be exempted from the examination, not even the eyes and genitals, not to mention the flesh between the toes, beneath the nails, palms, legs, face, trunks, arms, neck and back.
What you are looking out for are growths, sores, or patches that refuse to heal after a period of observation. The crucial thing is to not take any sign for granted, as rashes or little mounds can be all the warning you get before a ridiculous spread of Melanoma. To differentiate between the types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinomas are distinguished with appearances on the neck or head as a pale patch with a center filled with blood vessels. Squamous cell carcinomas look more like rough lumps on the skin that persist unlike normal skin rashes on places like the neck, hands, arms or head.
The most important step in checking for skin cancers is to consult the dermatologist for a check-up in case you have any worries about skin cancer. If you’re cleared, follow the rules of sunscreen purchase and application and make sure you remember that as important as the sun is, and your desire for a little tan, too much of anything is bad.