The sun is shining, the water is calling: summer is bathing suit season! Lying on the beach, surfing the waves, challenging yourself to a hike in the woods or perhaps a marathon bike ride, summer is the perfect time to soak up those ultra violet rays for that lovely golden glow. If you, like so many others others, enjoy a deep, rich tan that your friends say is to die for, you should also be aware that they are closer to the truth than you might think.
About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is among the most common forms of cancer and one in every five people will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime. Is is estimated that over eight thousand people a day are diagnosed with some sort of skin cancer. Most treatments for skin cancer can be performed on an out-patient basis with specialized topical creams or medications, or through surgery to remove the diseased area from the skin. More advanced cases could extend to chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma, or BCC for short, is the most common form of skin cancer, and it thrives on those same UV rays you enjoy every day, either outside in the sun or when you use a tanning bed. Between 40 and 50 per cent of Americans who live to age 65 will be diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma at least once and more than four million cases are diagnosed in the Unites States each year. This disease grows very slowly and may not show itself for several years. By then the DNA in your skin has already been greatly affected and treatments are necessary. Symptoms of BCC may appear as hard, reddish bumps with a white border, a sore pimple that bleeds, or a small scaling patch that does not seem to heal.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer among African Americans and Asian Indians, with one million cases being diagnosed in the United States every year. Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) may appear as red, scaly patches, or marks that look like an open sore or crusted skin. This form of skin cancer progresses very quickly, over a matter of only a few weeks, and is usually found around the head, neck, arms, back of the hands, or legs. It can also appear on or around the rims of your ears, so always check these places closely, especially if you have been exposed to intense UV rays for any length of time.
Malignant Melanoma is the fifth most common type of cancer among men and women in the United States, but it has a much higher mortality rate. There has been a 200% increase in Melanoma Cancer throughout the United States since 1973, and it is estimated that over 70,000 new cases will be reported each year, with at least 10,000 of those resulting in death from the disease. Unlike many other forms of cancer, melanoma is clearly visible on the outer surface of the skin. Its symptoms may appear as changes to an existing mole or blemish. Moles are usually light, dark brown, or black, and they have a distinct border around them, separating them from your skin. Melanoma may appear as a new, abnormal or discolored mole, or a visible, unexplained growth. If melanoma is detected early enough, however, it is highly treatable, with 90% survival rate. This is a much higher treatment success rate when compared to treatment for most other forms of cancer.
What To Do
If you believe that your skin may be showing symptoms of any of the above types of cancer, contact your dermatologist or your local health care provider as soon as possible.
You do not have to completely avoid the sun to prevent the development of skin cancer, however. Being more aware of your environment, such as limiting the length of time you spend exposed to UV rays as well as wearing a sunscreen with an SPF strength of 30 or higher will still get you a great tan while helping to keep your skin healthy and cancer free.
Where can I find more information about the effects of skin cancer?
About Skin Cancer | Cancer.org
Skin Cancer | SkinCancer.org
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