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All You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

All You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer, one of the most common types of cancers around the world, is the abnormal growth of skin cells, visible on the outer layer of your skin. Skin cancer usually affects the area that is exposed to the sun, but sometimes might develop in the unexposed areas as well. Though the treatment of skin cancer completely depends on the severity of the conditions, there are several ways you can prevent the occurrence of skin cancer by taking simple yet effective steps and making changes to your lifestyle.

What are the Common Types of Skin Cancer?

There are three broad types of skin cancer that vary in occurrence, visibility, symptoms, and treatment.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell skin cancer starts in the basal cells, a group of cells responsible for the creation of new skin cells. An abnormality in these cells due to external factors results in cancer. Basal cell carcinoma or BCC usually affects the skin that is exposed to the sun. Since UV radiation is one of the main causes of basal cell skin cancer, long term exposure to strong and direct sunlight can cause malfunctioning of these cells resulting in cancer. Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma include pearly waxy bump, flat, flesh color lesion, bleeding or scabbing sores.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous skin cells make up the middle and outer layers of the skin. Abnormal functioning of these skin cells leads to squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Though it is highly aggressive, squamous cell skin cancer is not usually life threatening and can be treated. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body (metastasis) and can cause serious complications. Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma include firm red nodules and flat lesions with crusty surface.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and develops in cells known as melanocytes. These cells are responsible for the creation of melanin, the pigment that determines your skin color. Increased exposure to UV radiation is one of the known causes of melanoma, although many a time the reason for its occurrence is unknown. Symptoms of melanoma include large brownish spots, moles that bleed, painful lesions, dark lesions on palms, soles, fingertips, or toes.

What are the Causes of Skin Cancer?

One of the major causes of skin cancer is UV radiation. The direct exposure of the skin to ultraviolet light causes abnormal functioning of the cells which then results in cancer. Though a lot of skin cancer types develop in places that are not exposed to the sun and so doctors have claimed that several other risk factors in addition to UV rays can cause skin cancer.

What are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?

A wide range of risk factors can trigger skin cancer, and sometimes might also lead to the occurrence of other forms of cancer. They include:

  • Fair Skin – Though skin cancer affects people regardless of skin color, the reduced production of melanin in your skin can make you more susceptible to damage from UV rays and other toxic exposures. People with lighter skin are more at risk of skin cancer than people with darker skin color.
  • High altitude climate – People living in sunny, warm, high altitude climates are susceptible to skin cancer because of an unfiltered dose of sunlight almost all the time throughout the day. The sunlight is the strongest in these regions which increases the exposure to UV rays.
  • Sunburns – A person who has a history of sunburns is also vulnerable to skin cancer, especially if you have experienced a lot of sunburns during your childhood. Excessive sunburns as an adult is also a red flag for skin cancer.
  • Moles – Abnormal moles, also known as dysplastic nevi, are irregular shaped moles that are generally larger in size than normal moles. One should always monitor the growth of these moles as they are highly susceptible to developing into cancerous cells.
  • Weak immune system - A weak immune system means the reduced capability of fighting an abnormality in the body. A weak immune system can also be a contributing factor to the occurrence of skin cancer especially in cases of HIV/AIDS or while using immunosuppressant drugs after surgery.


Exposure to radiation and toxic substances - There are a wide range of toxic substances that can trigger skin cancer. Radiation, not only from the sun, but from a number of other sources such as microwaves, batteries, etc. can increase the chances of skin cancer.

How to Prevent Skin Cancer?

There is no definitive way of preventing skin cancer, but there are several things that you can incorporate in your daily life to reduce the chances of skin cancer. They include:

  • Avoid the Sun – UV rays are one of the major causes of skin cancer, and reducing exposure to these harmful rays can help reduce the chances of skin cancer. The sun is the strongest during the middle of the day and so avoiding the sunlight between 11 and 4 in the day can be a great deterrent to skin cancer. It will reduce the exposure to UV and thus reduce your chances at skin cancer.
  • Wear Sunscreen – Sunscreens are a great way to create a protective layer around the skin at all times. Though they do not filter the harmful UV radiation but they help in an overall sun protection program. Using a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of above 30 can be a great to reduce chances of skin cancer. Especially on sunny days, use generous amounts of sunscreen to every part of the body exposed to the sun.
  • Protective Clothing – Protective clothing such as dark, tightly woven clothing that covers the hands and legs can be great while venturing out in broad sunlight. A wide hate that helps shade the face can also be a great addition to your protective wardrobe. Sunglasses are an important part as well, especially the ones that help filter out both UVA and UVB types of UV radiation.
  • Sun-sensitizing Medication – A number of over the counter drugs and prescription drugs can increase the vulnerability of the skin making it more sensitive to sunlight. This can increase the chances of skin cancer while reducing the chances of the body fighting the cancer on its own.
  • Self-diagnoses and Regular Checkups – If you notice any changes on your skin that are abnormal or if your skin itches or burns then you should immediately visit a medical facility for a check-up. Sometimes even the smallest of changes in the skin can be a warning bell for an oncoming cancer so a regular checkup is mandatory.

 

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that affects thousands of people in the US each year. Protecting ourselves from harmful UV rays and increasing our immunity are the only two major ways that can help reduce the chances of getting skin cancer. At HPFY, we have a wide range of protective sunscreen and clothing that can help your sun protection program as well as a wide range of healthy nutrition products to help boost your immunity.

 

 

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