What You Need To Know About Skin Cancer (Detection & Prevention)
Written by: Brandi Monasco
No one likes the word “cancer.” It hits too close to home for many people around the world. It is a disease that tears families apart and those who survive it, their lives are changed forever. According to the National Cancer Institute, there were over 1 million new cases of cancer in just 2016 alone and roughly 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the growth of abnormal skin cells. This type of cancer occurs when the unrepaired DNA cells from skin trigger mutations. The damaged skin cells are mostly caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The mutation of the skin cells lead to rapid multiplication and formation of malignant tumors.
There are various causes of skin cancer; the most common is the exposure to ultraviolet light. This can either be from the sun or from tanning beds. Individuals with fair skin, blue eyes and red or blond hair are mostly vulnerable. Ultraviolet rays are more in areas near the equator or places with high elevation because of intense sunlight exposure.
Early Detection Signs
The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that each and every individual should have a regular monthly examination of their skin for any signs of skin cancer. If skin cancer is detected early enough, you can seek medical help.
Basal And Squamous Cell Cancers
These types of skin cancers appear in many shapes and sizes; these two are often found in an area of skin that is more exposed to the sun. This can be the neck, head and arms, though they can develop anywhere in the body. Watch out for bumps, spots, patches and sores that don’t heal fast.
Basal cell carcinoma appears in the following ways:
- Raised itchy patches – they are reddish
- Flat, firm yellow or pale areas
- Small, red or pink shiny bumps – these might be blue or black areas
- Open sores that don’t heal or might heal and then come back again
Squamous cell carcinomas appear in the following ways:
- Rough red patches that might bleed
- Open sores that don’t heal easily
- Wart-like growths
- Raised lumps with lower area in the center
Moles And Melanomas
Moles are evenly colored tan, brown or black spots on the skin. Though some moles may appear during birth, anything that appears later in life should be checked by the doctor. Other warning signs of skin cancer include sores that don’t heal fast, redness and swelling of the skin, change in sensation – itching, spread pigment or other changes – oozing and bleeding.
How You Can Prevent Skin Cancer:
- Avoid the midday sun – for those in North America, the sun rays are intense from 10am to 4pm. Avoiding the sun during this time can help ensure that your skin is not damaged by sun rays.
- Wear sun shades – these are used to filter excess sun rays and harmful UV radiations.
- Wear protective clothing – sunscreen just protects a small portion of your skin. You should wear protective clothing such as dark woven clothing that covers your arms and legs. You can also wear a broad-brimmed hat or baseball cap.
- Avoid tanning beds – the light that is utilized in tanning beds emits harmful UV rays that can increase the risk of getting skin cancer.
- Avoid sun-sensitive medications – these medications can make the skin become more sensitive to the sunlight and may put you at the risk of getting skin cancer. Always consult on the side effects of any medication.
- Look out for early detection signs – when you detect early signs like the signs discussed above, report to the doctor immediately for further help.
You can self-examine yourself with the help of a mirror; check your face, ears, neck and scalp frequently. In addition to this, you can examine your hands, trunk and chest. Don’t forget your legs, feet, between the toes, buttocks and genital areas.
What tips do you have for helping prevent skin cancer? Share with us in the comments below!
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Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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