As we start to enjoy the summer it is important that we take care of our skin to prevent damage from the sun. This national UV awareness month we will discuss how to enjoy the sun whilst doing our best to prevent skin cancer.
About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America and will affect one in 5 Americans in their lifetime. Over 35. Skin cancer diagnoses are made in the United States every year. Skin cancer rates for Americans are higher than breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer combined.
Skin cancer is the result of uncontrollable cell growth within the skin cells, normally caused by exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. Exposure to UV rays causes DNA mutations that result in abnormal cells.
Types of Skin Cancer
Although there are many different types of skin cancer, there are two main types of skin cancer; malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, or keratinocyte cancer.
Keratinocyte Cancer (Basal and squamous cell carcinomas)
These are the most common types of skin cancers by far. They are known as keratinocyte carcinomas as they have a similar structure to normal skin cells (keratinocytes). There are two main types of keratinocyte cancers:
Basal Cell Carcinomas account for 80% of skin cancers and usually develop in areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, particularly the head and neck. At one time basal cell carcinomas only affected middle age or older people. Now, however, young people are also affected by the condition, probably because they are spending more time in the sun. Basal cell carcinoma is very treatable, especially if it is caught early. If undetected, it may spread to surrounding tissues or bone, although it is very rare for a basal cell carcinoma to spread to the lymph nodes.
Squamous cell carcinomas resemble the squamous cells that are found in the outer layers of skin. Like basal cell carcinomas, they usually occur in areas that have been exposed to the sun. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to spread and grow more than the basal cell variety, with more chance of invading the fatty tissue under the skin’s surface and spreading to the lymph nodes.
Malignant Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma arises in the melanocytes, the cells in the outer layer of skin that make melanin, the pigment that causes skin to darken in order to protect it from harmful UV rays.
Melanoma will account for around 76,600 of the 3.5 million skin cancers identified in 2013 and is responsible for between 9 and 12,000 cancer deaths every year. However, if found in the early stages, the chances of cure for malignant melanoma a are very high.
Usually the first sign of a melanoma is an irregular mole, which will usually be brown or black in color (although some melanocytes fail to produce melanin, in which case they will be pink, tan or even white).
If you have an irregular mole, see your doctor straight away. It may be nothing but the sooner melanoma is detected, the more effective melanoma treatment will be.
Functional Oncology has been used to successfully treat a range of cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer and leukemia. If you would like to find out more about how could help you or a loved one beat cancer, contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.