Any kind of cancer is frightening and potentially deadly, but skin cancer is not only preventable, but also detectable and easily treated in its early stages. If skin cancer is detected in its earliest stages, you may be able to remove it completely through outpatient surgery without having to undergo any further radiation or chemotherapy. If you adopt behavior which reduces risk factors for skin cancer, and learn to detect skin cancer warning signs, skin cancer will not cause you unnecessary suffering.
Risk factor is a term used for factors associated with higher instances of contracting a disease. The exact cause-effect relationship is not scientifically proven, although reasons are often hypothesized and widely assumed to be true, but the statistical relationship between risk factors and contracting a specific disease is proven.
It may already be too late for you to avoid one of the risk factors for skin cancer, which is having had a blistering sunburn at any point in your life. This is specifically a sunburn severe enough to cause blisters in the skin due to overexposure to UV radiation. Avoid severe sunburns in the future whether you have ever suffered one or not, and avoid exposing yourself to too much sun in general. If you have children, you can greatly reduce their risk of skin cancer in the future making sure they do not suffer a severe sunburn during their childhood.
The midday sun should be avoided if possible, and strong sunscreen or protective clothing significantly reduce skin cancer risk. The most common place for skin cancer to present itself is on the face, although it can be anywhere on your skin and in the case of melanoma, in the eye. Brimmed hats or sunscreen and UV blocking shades are recommended.
If your doctor detects skin cancer in its earliest stages, the treatment will be the relatively painless surgical removal of the tumor and any surrounding tissue which may contain cancerous cells, and this may be the only treatment you need to get rid of the tumor and prevent it from growing back. As the disease progresses, the treatment gets more severe, including surgical removal of lymph nodes, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and the side effects that come along with these treatments. If a tumor is allowed to metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body, skin cancer may become deadly.
You can make sure skin cancer is detected early by doing periodical examinations of your skin to look for any changes. Moles are normal, but if you have irregularly shaped moles (dysplastic nevi), you may want a doctor’s help to watch for any changes in these moles and assure that they do not turn into melanoma. If moles grow in size, change shape or color, or the surrounding tissue becomes irritated, you should see a doctor. Also check for lumps, which may be your skin tone or red, and any odd sores or rashes that do not heal. If you see any of these, they should be reviewed by a doctor.
You can lower the risk of suffering from skin cancer through prevention and by checking for skin cancer warning signs.