Each year approximately one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer—the most common of all cancers. Actually skin cancer includes more than a hundred skin diseases. However, all skin cancer involves damage to skin cells. Approximately 40-50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have at least one skin cancer. People with fair skin that freckles easily, with blond or red hair and blue or light-colored eyes are most at risk for skin cancer.
The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, sunlamps and tanning booths cause skin cancer. People living in areas that get more sunlight are more likely to get skin cancer. Most skin cancers appear after age 50, but skin damage begins in early childhood.
Prevention of Skin Damage
- Protective clothing—long sleeves, long pants and wide-brim hats.
- Sunscreen and sunblock lotions—rated SPF 15-30.
- Monthly skin self-exams.
- Avoid the sun during the heat of the day.
Normal skin cells may begin to divide too rapidly and form tumors. Tumors can be benign—non-spreading skin cancer tumors that may be removed surgically. Malignant skin tumors can spread and destroy healthy skin tissue and other organs. Skin cancer cells can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body forming new tumors.
Most Common Types of Skin Cancer:
- Non-melanoma Basal Skin Cell Carcinoma—slow growing skin cancer that rarely spreads and accounts for 90 percent of
skin cancer. U. S.
- Non-melanoma Squamous Skin Cell Carcinoma—skin cancer that seldom, but sometimes, spreads. More than 2000 non-melanoma skin cancer deaths are predicted for the year 2001.
- Melanoma—the most serious type of skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Symptoms
- Any change in the skin.
- New skin growth.
- A sore on the skin that will not heal .
- Change in a mole size, texture, color or shap.
- Bleeding mole.
- Asymmetrical moles with rough edges.
- Pre-cancerous actinic keratoses—raised, reddish, rough lesions.
- Pain is not a symptom—skin cancers seldom cause pain.
Skin Cancer Treatment
- EARLY TREATMENT would cure 100 percent of skin cancers.
- Skin Cancer surgery.
- Radiation therapy.
- Combination of skin cancer surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.