Avoiding skin cancer this summer
Minot State University
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Americans, affecting 1 in 5 people (AAD, 2018). People can be affected by the rays even when it is cloudy outside. It can also be the most preventable cancer as well. This article will summarize the different types of skin cancer, who is at a higher risk for developing cancer, how skin cancer is treated, and how skin cancer can be prevented.
Most American’s don’t know that there are four types of skin cancer. Actinic Keratoses is the first type of skin cancer that can appear in people who have fair skin. This type of cancer is usually seen in people that are in their 40’s and older, due to the years of exposure. It’s most commonly found on the head, neck, hands, and forearms. Actinic keratoses, if not treated, can progress to Squamous Cell Carcinoma which is the fastest spreading type of skin cancer (AAD, 2018).
Basal Cell Carcinoma, which are cells that line the deepest layer of your skin, is the most common skin cancer. It can happen to fair skinned and dark-skinned Americans. It appears as a flesh colored pearl bump or pinkish dry patch of skin. It so mostly found on head, neck, and arms but can be found on chest, abdomen, and legs. Basal Cell Carcinoma is serious because it can invade the tissues around it including the nerves and bones which can lead to deformities or even amputation of the limb that is affected (AAD, 2018).
Squamous Cell Carcinoma, an abnormal growth in the outer most lay of the skin, is the second most common of the skin cancers. It starts as a red bump or a sore that heals and reopens. Squamous Cell can be found on the edges of the ears, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. As stated earlier this can be progressive from Actinic Keratoses (AAD, 2018). This type of cancer is super important to catch early because it can spread to other parts of the body (AAD, 2018).
The fourth type of skin cancer is melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer there is because it will metastasize, move very quickly to other parts of the body. Most melanoma’s start as a mole or a new dark spot that appears on the skin. If cought in time the mole can be removed. If not taken care of right away this can spread to other parts of the body (AAD, 2018).
Some American’s are more prone to developing skin cancer than others. People who have a lighter natural skin color and skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun are at a greater chance of getting skin cancer (AAD, 2018). People who have blue or green eyes and have naturally blonde or red hair are at an increased risk as well. Another risk factor is if you have a large amount of moles or have a family history of skin cancer are also at a greater risk of developing skin cancer (AAD, 2018).
Most skin cancers are found by a provider doing an assessment on the area of the skin and completing a biopsy of the area of skin that have an unusual characteristic to it. The sample is sent to a pathologist, who will examine and result the sample. From there the pathologist will communicate with the provider and relate the findings to the patient. Depending on the type of skin cancer the provider might recommend appropriate treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of the therapies (AAD, 2018).
Skin cancer is the most common cancer but it is also the most preventable cancer there is. The easiest thing you can do is stay out of the sun from the hours of 10am to 2pm. That is when the rays are at their strongest. Wearing long sleeves and long pants while in the sun can reduce the risk as well. Wearing a wide brim hat can reduce the exposure of the rays on the skin. Wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays, which can reach the deepest layer of skin, will reduce your risk for developing eye complications. The last thing that Americans can do to lower their risk for developing skin cancer is wearing a sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher and reapplying it every two hours while outdoors.
Stop skin cancer before it starts. It is so important to watch for changes in your skin and see your healthcare provider if changes are noted.