Skin cancer is a commonly occurring cancer in the United States where 1 million people are diagnosed annually. This type of cancer is also common worldwide. Skin cancer is particularly common in countries that receive very high levels of UV radiation, such as Australia. There are different types of skin cancer that can form, namely, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma. Regardless of the type of cancer, it is more common in older people because over time, the damaging effects of the sun accumulate. As we age it is also much harder for our cells to fix errors in the DNA and cell cycle.
The first two types are also often grouped together and called non-melanoma skin cancer, which is not as deadly as melanoma, but it nevertheless still dangerous and often disfiguring.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) develops in the squamous epithelial cells of the skin. These cells are on the outermost parts of the skin, are present in several layers, and are frequently shed from the skin at various times. The SCC arises in these cells because of damage to the DNA caused by the UV radiation of the sun or from exposure due to tanning bed use. People with SCC develop sores and reddened patches or warts. These growths can spread if the condition is not treated and thus it can become more dangerous for the person. The disease is not often deadly but rather causes disfiguration.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is more prevalent in the population than is SCC and it forms in cells of the basal layer, which are found beneath the squamous cells. This type of cancer is often on the face and neck where it forms ugly sores. Untreated cancer can spread to the bones and cause death, but this is rare since most often cancer can be cut out, but this leads to scarring on parts of the body that are visible.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of the three types of skin cancer that are found, but luckily it is the rarest of the three forms of skin cancer that you get. This cancer happens in the melanocytes of the skin, which are the cells that make the melanin that gives skin its color.
Malignant melanoma is often first noticed by a change in the color, size, and appearance of a mole on the skin. The cancer is very deadly if not caught in time and thus it is essential that people have their skin checked regularly, particularly if they have fair skin and a large number of moles present.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT SKIN CANCER?
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the harmful rays of the sun and to avoid using tanning beds. While people with fair skin are for more likely to get skin cancer, it can occur in people with darker skin pigmentation.
If you do have to be in the sun for long periods of time and you live in a country that gets a lot of sunshine, you should wear sunblock and clothing that protects you. You can also limit your activity to times when the sun is not as strong.
Cosmetic clinics can help with any other skin issues you may have and they can provide advice on how to protect your skin.