Understanding Skin Cancer Better

How well do you  understand skin cancer?

Although the skin is the largest organ of the human body, not many people give it the attention it deserves. Our skin serves us a great deal of purpose. It covers our internal organs and keeps them protected from injury. It also acts as a barrier preventing harmful microbes such as bacteria and viruses from getting in your system and creating havoc and it prevents fluid loss.

Thanks to the skin, we don’t freeze or boil to death since it regulates our body temperature.  We also need to thank our skin for getting rid of body wastes. Without the cells in the skin communicating with the brain we won’t have the sense of touch.

Skin Cancer Statistics

Did you know that skin cancer is actually the most common of all cancers? In the United States, skin cancer actually accounts for almost half of all cancer cases. Every year a figure of more than 3.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. While it is expected that this year (2013), the number of melanoma cases, which is the most serious type of skin cancer will reach a figure of more than 76,600.

The 2 Most Common Types of Skin Cancer

Basal, and squamous cell carcinoma are the types of skin cancer with a classification of non-melanomas and are the most common. Keratoacanthomas, Merkel cell carcinoma, skin lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, skin adnexal tumors and sarcomas are also types of skin cancer classified as non-melanomas. This classification is meant to differentiate them from the more serious type which is melanoma. As with its name, basal cell carcinoma, usually begins in the basal cells while squamous cell carcinoma usually starts in the squamous cells. Both basal and squamous cells are located at the base of the skin’s outer layer.

In most cases, basal and squamous cell cancers develop on areas of the skin that are usually exposed under the sun such as the face, ears, neck, lips as well as the back of the hands. They can grow slowly or fast depending on the type. It is however rare that they spread to other parts of the body. If basal cell or squamous cell cancers are detected and treated early, they are curable.

Melanoma: The Most Serious Type of Skin Cancer

As mentioned earlier, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It starts in the cells that produce melanin which are called melanocytes. Melanin is a pigment that aids in protecting the skin’s deeper layers from the harsh effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Although melanoma is the most serious type, it is almost always curable when detected on its early stages and treated promptly. Even though the number of melanoma cases is relatively less than the other types of skin cancer, it is far more dangerous and has caused the most deaths from this disease.

For skin cancer to be detected at its earlier stages, one should see to it that they get screened for this disease at least once a year. It is best to talk to a dermatologist to learn more about skin cancer and how you can minimize your risk.

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