What is Skin Cancer?

We have all heard the term skin cancer. Many of us still think that skin cancer is something that would not happen to us or to any of our loved ones. It is one thing to be hopeful but the truth is anyone can get this disease. In fact, skin cancer is by far the most common cancer in the entire globe. It accounts for 75% of all cancer diagnoses. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/melanoma-guide/understanding-skin-cancer-basics)

Another startling fact is that cases of people diagnosed with skin cancer is continuing to rise. Even more startling is the fact the skin cancer can be prevented. The best way to cut down your risk of this cancer is by limiting your exposure to ultraviolet radiation and keeping your skin protected with the use of sunscreen lotion.

Skin Cancer and Its Risk Factors

It is estimated that skin cancer is thrice more common in men than in women and one’s risk for the disease goes up with age. In most cases, people diagnosed with this cancer are aged 45 and 54. However, it is important to note that all types of skin cancer are now appearing more often in younger people. For people with close relatives that have been diagnosed with skin cancer, it is best to have a regular screening for the disease too. This is because the chances of you getting the disease is higher. Two factors that also play a role in one’s risk of getting the disease are geography and race. Skin cancer is at its highest with fair-skinned Caucasians who have moved to an area that has higher yearly sun exposure compared to their previous locations.

Skin Cancer and The Good News

The good news is that skin cancer when detected on its early stages is highly curable. Another good thing is that each malignant skin tumor starts becoming visible on the skin’s surface in time. This makes skin cancer almost always detectable in its early, curable stages. So having the knowledge about the the signs and symptoms of skin cancer is very important. Having a regular screening for skin cancer is also helpful in detecting the disease early on. Early detection plus early treatment is most likely to result in beating this cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is categorized into two; melanoma and nonmelanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of this cancer. Although it is potentially aggressive and life-threatening, if detected and treated early, it can be curable. Compared to the other types of skin cancer, melanoma has a faster progression and spreads to other parts of the body. Once melanoma has spread beyond the skin, it becomes very hard to treat.

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are classified as nonmelanoma and rarely are they life-threatening. These two are the most common types of skin cancer. Both cancers progress slowly and it is very rare that they spread beyond the skin. 3 out of 4 skin cancers diagnosed is basall cell carcinoma. This is the slowest growing type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma on the other hand is a bit more aggressive and more likely to spread. There are other rare nonmelanoma skin cancers like the Kaposi’s sarcoma. This nonmelanoma can be life-threatening. People with a compromised immune system are at risk of getting this type of skin cancer. People with AIDS and the elderly are those at most risk for Kaposi’s sarcoma.

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