What is Skin Cancer and Who is Most at Risk?
If you have read a newspaper or listened to the news over the last few years, then you will know that there are always constant warnings telling us to protect our skin against skin cancer. Whilst many people do listen to these warnings, there are still a shocking amount of people who still ignore them.
If you are one of those people that do ignore the warnings you are likely to be thinking that there is no chance of you getting the cancer and that there is no harm in missing an application or two of sun tan lotion.
Skin Cancer and its Various Forms
Skin cancer is not as rare as some people think that it is. Whilst it is true that staying in the sun unprotected for a little amount of time, rarely leads to skin cancer, it still can occur. There are different forms of skin cancer, though some are extremely rare. The three most common types of skin cancer include:
This is less common than the other two types of skin cancer, though it can be a lot more serious. It develops from the melanocytes in the skin and is usually seen as a pigmented lesion with an irregular shape in the skin. This is definitely the most potentially harmful cancer as it can spread to various different areas within the body. If treated early, the good news is that this type of cancer has a very high cure rate, so get to the doctors as soon as possible for your best chance of recovery!
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This is usually seen within any part of the body which is exposed to excessive sun. Often occurring in the hands, lower lip, and the forehead, this type of cancer appears as a red bump or an ulceration of the skin which does not heal. The cancer if left untreated can spread to lymph nodes within the affected area.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is by far the most common type of cancer you are likely to get and it usually appears as a small bump which has a pearly colored appearance. Usually the cancer is found on areas of the body which have had excessive sun exposure. This type of skin cancer does not usually spread to other parts of the body, and will only spread to the skin around the actual cancer.
Overall, Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common skin cancer but it is not the most serious. Usually people with fair skin are more at risk than others of contracting the cancer, especially people with freckles. Obviously, the longer you expose your skin to the sun without sufficient protection, the more at risk you are of developing skin cancer.
How to Prevent Yourself from Getting Skin Cancer and the Treatments Available
It is really easy to protect yourself against skin cancer, so really there is no excuse for not preventing it. Using an adequate amount of sun protection lotion is a must, and unfortunately many people simply do not bother with it. There seems to be some confusion between how much you should use and what protection factor you should go for. Generally, children and people with fair skin need to be using a higher protection factor than other people. People with darker skin do not tend to get skin cancer as often as people with lighter skin so they do not need a high factor sun lotion.
Sunbeds are also a cause of skin cancer, though cases are rare. So if you do use a sunbed, it is important that you limit your use of it, and contact your doctor to see how often they recommend you should use it.
When out in the sun do not forget to protect your face too. Applying lotion to the ears, nose and neck will help to protect those sensitive areas from the sun.
If you do notice any changes in your skin such as moles, lesions or sores which do not heal, it is always better to consult your doctor immediately. If caught early, most skin cancer can be cured. There are various forms of treatment for skin cancer including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The treatment which you will receive depends upon your age, health and the size of the cancer. However, surgery is the most common form of treatment and it is usually done as an outpatient procedure.