Let’s Knock Out Skin Cancer

Getting sunburns quite easily or a lot of moles on the body? It could be Skin Cancer!

If you are someone who spends enormous amounts of time exposed under the sun, you might want to read this one till the end. Skin cancer, a condition of abnormal growth of skin cells, is a common form of cancer. This usually happens when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation for large amounts of time. However, skin cancer can also develop in the areas which aren’t usually exposed under the sun. 

Not exposed to sun

So let’s take a look at the main categories of skin cancer. Majorly, skin cancer is of three types: 

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: This type of skin cancer instigates in the basal cells, the type of cell responsible for producing new skin cells when the old skin cells are dead. Basal cell carcinoma is a skin cancer that manifests itself in the form of a transparent bump on the part of the skin that is mostly exposed to the sun. It can appear in areas like the face, head, neck, back, etc. Basal cell carcinoma can be avoided by using sunscreen and keeping away from direct sunlight. This condition is less life-threatening compared to the other forms of skin cancers. Although, if overlooked for a long time, these small bumps can spread further and cause bigger problems.  
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type of skin cancer builds up in the squamous cells, the type of skin cells that compose the middle and outer layers of the skin. Therefore, squamous cell carcinoma can happen anywhere squamous cells are present, as they are found in several places in your body.  Squamous cell carcinoma is apparent and incessant, yet it isn’t life-threatening. When overlooked, this type of skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body. You can prevent this situation by limiting your time under the exposure of sun, and your usage of tanning beds or any other source of harmful UV radiation. 
  • Melanoma: This type of skin cancer develops from melanocytes, these cells give the skin its color. Melanoma skin cancer is caused by these melanocytes as they form moles that can later prove to be cancerous. The cancerous moles can develop anywhere on your body, like the chest, back, legs, etc. These melanomas are also likely to spread from one part of the body to another very quickly. However, to your relief, melanomas can be detected easily and if identified early, can also be treated.

Risk Factors

Risk factors

Here are some factors that may contribute to your risk of getting skin cancer:

  • Sun exposure: This is a major factor that leads to skin cancer. Excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin cancer in the absence of proper clothing or sunscreen.
  • Sunburns: If you are someone who is used to being sunburnt often, there’s a high chance of developing skin cancer. Blistering sunburn is a risk factor of skin cancer. 
  • Fair Skin: This means that having a less amount of melanin pigment in your skin can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Melanin is the pigment that protects the skin from the harmful UV rays. People with lighter skin are more likely to develop skin cancer than those with a darker skin tone, as more melanin is present in their skin. 
  • Climate: If you live in hot places with high-altitude climates, it is obvious that you are exposed to the sunlight most of the time. Therefore, you are exposed to much more radiation than causes skin cancer than those living in colder areas. 
  • Radiation Exposure: If you are exposed to a lot of radiation, say for the treatment of other conditions, you are much likely to develop skin cancer. 
  • Immune System: A weak immune system exposes you to developing skin cancer, considering the atmospheric and lifestyle aspects. 
  • Atypical Moles: If you notice any abnormal moles or a lot of moles on your body chances are that you might develop skin cancer. Such moles are very likely to become cancerous if overlooked and misinterpreted. 

Symptoms

The symptoms of skin cancer depend on the respective type of skin cancer. However, a major symptom of every skin cancer is any unusual change that you can notice on your skin. Therefore, you must always be aware of the changes taking place in your body. Here are some of the most common symptoms for every type of skin cancer:  

  • If you notice any unusual moles, too many moles and moles of strange colors.
  • If you notice peculiar skin lesions, particularly notice the color. If it is unusual like red, white, blue, etc.
  • Observing the development of dark spots on your skin, scaly skin, bumps, etc.
  • The size of your skin lesions or moles being oddly large. 

Causes

Here are the causes of different types of skin cancer:

  • Skin cancer generally occurs while the process of mutation takes place in the DNA of your skin cells, particularly causing unusual growth in the skin cells to form cancerous cells. 
  • Melanoma is caused by extensive exposure to ultraviolet rays. However, the reason why some moles turn cancerous and others don’t is still uncertain. 
  • Squamous skin cancer is caused due to exposure to radiation and chemicals that cause skin cancer. This type of skin cancer can also build up within an old ulcer or a burn scar.
  • Basal cell skin cancer is caused majorly by extensive and continuing exposure to (UV) rays. This can be a result of the sunlight or tanning beds. 

Treatment

Following are some treatments that are generally recommended to skin cancer patients, depending on the type and stage of skin cancer: 

  • Photodynamic Therapy: In this, cancer cells are destroyed using photodynamic laser light.  
  • Excision Surgery: In this surgery, the cancer is removed by cutting it out. 
  • Chemotherapy: In this type of treatment, oral medication and injections are used to eliminate cancerous skin cells. 
  • Radiation: Here, cancerous cells are destroyed by using high-powered energy beams.
  • Immunotherapy: Creams that stimulate the immune system and result in the elimination of the cancerous cells are applied to the skin.

How to prevent

The following measures can help you prevent or lower the risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Avoid long-term sun exposure.
  • Keep away from the use of sunlamps and tanning beds.
  • Always use a sunscreen with high SPF when out in the sun.
  • Completely avoid direct sun exposure when it’s the strongest, for instance from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Protect yourself by wearing hats and scarves to cover your skin. 
  • You can check the skincare routines suggested by some expert dermatologists.

Nonetheless, if detected at an early stage you can always restore your skin back to health and even cure skin cancer. Therefore, you must always take care and watch out for the symptoms of skin cancer, considering your lifestyle. Make sure that you aren’t spending an unhealthy amount of time exposed to the harmful UV rays, and taking all necessary precautions and protective measures. 

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