Skin cancer is diagnosed more often than all other cancers combined. In 2006, more than 62,000 people in the United States discovered they had this cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 9,000 people died from it.
Ultraviolet or UV rays are to skin cancer what smoking is to lung cancer-a highly avoidable cancer-causing agent. Excessive sun exposure is the cause for most of this. Other risk factors include exposure to coal, arsenic or radium, multiple moles, having a fair complexion and experiencing severe sunburns as a child.
There are two types. Non-melanomas are the most common type and the most treatable. This type rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Non-melanoma is found often on the head and neck. Exposure to UV rays is often the cause of non-melanoma cancer.
The second type is melanoma. This begins in the melanocytes, or the cells that produce color or pigment. Melanoma skin cancer can be found anywhere. According to the American Cancer Society, men most likely find this on their trunk while women usually discover it on their legs. Melanoma is the most fatal of the two types. It can spread to other parts of the body.
Skin cancer can be cured if it is caught early. It is recommended that you check yourself once a month. Look at yourself in a bright room in front of a mirror. Examine your skin closely and note the look of moles, freckles and blemishes.
What kind of changes should you look for to determine if you are at risk for skin cancer. Here are a few signs:
* If a mole has changed color
* Dark coloring that has exceeded the mole or mark
* Oozing of bleeding
* Itchiness, tenderness or pain
Several treatments are available. You physician may chose to cut the melanoma completely out. You will have stitches and a scar after the excision. If you doctor has confirmed melanoma, he will want you to come back so he can cut skin around it. This will let you and your physician know if the skin cancer has spread.
The best way to deter this is to monitor your time in the sun. Here are several recommendations to keep you skin cancer-free:
* Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its brightest.
* If you have to be outdoors, look for the shade.
* Cover up as much of your skin as possible.
* Use a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor of SPF 14.