Diseases Cancer

About Skin Cancer

Introduction

Types of skin cancer include squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the least common cancer skin, but if detected early it has a high success rate when treated. Early detection and immediate treatment are important for any cancer. The best way to avoid skin cancer is by learning how to protect your skin and how to identify the early warning symptoms.

The Facts

Skin cancer is the result of the abnormal growth of skin cells. The most common risk factor for the disease is exposure to the sun, but it can develop on any area of skin, covered or not. For that reason, the best course of prevention is to avoid exposure to the sun. When exposure is unavoidable, protect yourself by wearing sunscreen even when it is not sunny outside. Since cancer skin is caused by damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun and exposure to ultraviolet rays, wearing sunscreen daily is the next best form of protection.

Type: As mentioned previously, there exists three main types of cancer skin, the most common is basal cell carcinoma, which usually resembles a mole. This form of cancer does not usually spread into the body and in most cases can be removed surgically. Squamous cell carcinoma is a less common type of cancer skin which occurs more often in men. This form of cancer resembles coarse, red bumps that normally show up on parts of the skin bared to the sun. Melanoma is the rarest and most dangerous type of skin cancer, resulting in death when not treated early enough.

Identification: Any skin cancer that can be identified early is usually treatable. Seek immediate medical advice for any skin anomaly, like a mole, that is irregular in shape with uneven borders. Color variations within the growth are also an indication that it could be cancerous. Normal moles are usually solid in color, whereas cancer skin can produce many hues, including red, white and blue. Skin cancer can also be recognized by size; most cancerous lesions are larger than a pencil eraser. Talk to a physician if there is any variation in size or color of the growth. Painful, rough, red bumps on sun-exposed areas may be an indication of the less common squamous cell carcinoma and should be attended to as soon as possible.

Effects: Skin cancer is the cause of unsightly lesions, discomfort, pain and death. Like all cancers, cancer skin can spread, first onto the skin and then into the body. Cancer that has spread only to the skin does not kill. Skin cancer can be fatal when it spreads through the body and begins damaging internal organs. Melanoma is considered the most deadly type of cancer, as it spreads quickly to other parts of the body. When some cancers spread to the lymph nodes, they are almost always fatal.

Time Frame: When it comes to cancer skin, early diagnosis is key. Treating cancer before it is allowed to spread through the body is the best way to stop the disease. For instance, patients who receive treatment for melanoma while it is still localized have a 99% chance of surviving five years post treatment. The five-year survival rate drops to 91% once the melanoma has begun to spread. Those in the later stages of disease have a 65% five year survival rate. Because of this, any growth that does not look normal should receive immediate attention.

Conclusion

People who are subjected to the sun on a consistent basis are at higher risk for skin cancer. Other risk factors include being easily sunburned, having fair skin, living in a high altitude, or having many moles. A family history of cancer skin also puts one at increased risk. People with fragile skin or a reduced immune system are at a larger risk to develop melanoma or carcinoma. Advanced age is also a risk factor, as skin cancer is seen more in the elderly.

By Oliver DeKitti, published at 02/18/2012
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