How many of you have every laid out in the sun on purpose just to get a tan? Or better yet how many of you believe you look prettier or more handsome tan? According to the American Cancer Society more than 1 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and the numbers seem to be increasing day to day. And believe it or not skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Today I am going to inform you about skin cancer and how you can protect yourself from it.
To begin, our skin is the largest organ of the body and it covers our internal organs and protects them from injury. The skin also serves as a barrier between germs and our internal organs. Our skin regulates body temperature and helps the body get rid of excess waste. Certain cells in our skin also communicate with the brain and allow us the feel temperature, touch, and pain sensations.
Some may ask, what exactly is skin cancer and why is it such a big deal now? Well there are two basic types of skin cancer; Nonmelanoma (which is also called basal or squamous cell) skin cancer and then there is melanoma skin cancer.
Most skin cancers are classified under nonmelanoma, meaning that the cells are located at the base of the outer, layer of the skin. Basically, the skin that covers the surface of the body, not the deep tissues. Nonmelanoma skin cancer usually develops on sun-exposed areas of the body, places like: the face, ears, necks, lips, and the backs of hands. Depending on the type they can be fast or slow growing but rarely spreads to other parts of the body. There is a cure for nonmelanoma skin cancer is detected and treated early.
On the other hand, you have melanoma skin cancer. Which is the more dangerous of the two; however it is also the least common. Melanoma skin cancer tends to spread very quickly to other body parts. However, it is almost always curable if it is detected in the early stages. But the killer part is a lot of people do not realize that they may have melanoma skin cancer until the later stages, after it has already started affecting other organs. Once it has reached that stage, it is virtually incurable. People diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer that has already spread to other body parts are given on average a five year survival rate.
So what puts you at risk for skin cancer? Some high risk factors include:
· Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to Ultraviolet(uv) radiation
· Fair complexions( people with red hair, most likely)
· Occupational exposures (i.e. Construction workers, arsenic compounders, baseball players)
· Family history of skin cancer
· Multiple or atypical moles
· Severe sunburns as a child
So how can you detect skin cancer? Some signs of skin cancer in the early stages may include but are not limited:
· any change on the skin, especially in the size or color of a mole or other darkly pigmented growth or spot, or a new growth
· scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
· the spread of pigmentation beyond its border such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
· a change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain in a mole