Cancer. This is such a small word, but a very large and devastating disease. Everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by cancer one way or another. According to the American Cancer Society, every year more than one million people are diagnosed with cancer. Skin Cancer is one of the most common types of cancers. Breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined are still less than all the cases of skin cancer that are diagnosed in a year. Nearly half of all Americans who live to age sixty-five are expected to acquire skin cancer at least one time in their life, according to Medicinenet. com.
The three types of skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Malignant Melanoma. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. It grows very slow and rarely spreads. Basal Cell is easy to find and just as easy to treat. The basal cell layer of skin is the top layer, and this is where the cancer emerges as a tiny bump. Basal cell rarely spreads. When basal cell carcinoma goes untreated or unnoticed it can spread just like any other type of cancer, causing damage to nerves and even bones. Sometimes this cancer is hard to spot because they can resemble skin tags or moles.
Watching for changes in your skins appearance is very important. When looking at your skin check for new growths or sores that won’t heal. The sore will be open. It will bleed, ooze, and crusts for a few weeks; it will heal but then opens back up again and the process will restart. Also look for an area that is irritated or a red patch of skin, normally on the face, chest, shoulders, arms or legs. Although, some can go unnoticed others may itch and cause discomfort. It can be pink, red, white, black, brown, and even tan. Thus, making it easily confused with a mole.
Anyone can get BCC but there are certain traits that make you more susceptible to it. Those physical traits are light-colored or freckled skin, blue, green, or gray eyes, blond or red hair, and people who do not tan easily. Not using sunscreen or covering yourself up when spending a large amount of time outside. Using tanning beds can also be a factor in causing BCC. Having a family history of basal cell can also be a factor. After having one spot of basal cell it is likely that you will have another spot later in life. Even a family history of basal cell carcinoma can be a reason that you would get basal cell.
A few months ago my mother was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. She had a spot on her nose near the corner of her eye, which is a dangerous spot. When she went to the dermatologist in St. Louis they did the biopsy on the spot and also acquired the results right away. He recommended that they take as much as they could out that day. She had BCC that had grown rapidly and the doctor was worried it would spread to her eye so they treated it immediately. The doctor told my mom also that in most cases of basal cell carcinoma, within 5 years of the first spot found they have at least one or more spots that will needed to be treated.
Basal cell carcinoma is approximately eight out of every ten non-melanoma skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Two million eight hundred thousand cases of BCC are diagnosed every year in the United States. It makes up eighty percent of all skin cancers that are diagnosed. The second most common type of skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This cancer is in the squamous cells that are in the upper layers of skin. Most of the time the people who have this type of skin cancer have fair, pale skin, light hair, and blue, green, or gray eyes.
Anyone who has spent a long time out in the sun is at risk for squamous cell carcinoma. People who have also had basal cell carcinoma are twice as likely to develop squamous cell. This type of cancer is more likely to occur in males then females. Just like BCC there are many causes of squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell tends to look like a red scaly patch of skin, warts, growths, and open sores; they may even bleed or scab over. Also, they will have unequal boarders. The starting stages are called actinic keratosis. These are very small growths that are mostly found where the skin is open to the sun.
Another form of skin cancer that leads to squamous cell carcinoma is actinic cheilitis this is normally found on the bottom lip. Bowen’s disease is thought to be an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma in one confined location. It resembles psoriasis or eczema. When left untreated it will spread deeper under the skin. Long-term Ultra-violet rays usually cause this cancer. That may become blemishing and even deadly if left untreated. Using a tanning bed makes you twice as likely to develop this skin cancer. Squamous cell can also be inherited. The number of squamous cell cancer has been increasing for many years now.
There is estimated to be around seven hundred thousand cases of squamous cell carcinoma each year. Males are three times more likely to develop this form of skin cancer than females, as stated by Skin Cancer A to Z. Squamous cell carcinoma is the cancer that is common in African Americans and Asians. Of all Americans who live to sixty-five, forty to fifty percent of these people will have this type of skin cancer. The least common but yet the most deadly of skin cancers is malignant melanoma. This cancer forms in the cells that make the melanin. Melanin is the pigment that makes the skin tan.
They are most likely to appear in the beginning locations including your chest and back in males and on the legs in females. You can get melanoma anywhere on the skin. It is most likely curable if caught in it is caught early. Unlike basal and squamous cell carcinoma it is likely to spread faster if you do not find it early. According to the American cancer society, about seventy-six thousand two hundred and fifty new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2012 and about nine thousand one hundred and eighty people are expected to die of melanoma. It is more common in Caucasians than in African Americans.
Also unlike the other types of skin cancer melanoma occurs in younger and older people. There are many ways to prevent all types of skin cancers. To prevent or help the cancer from returning unnoticed preform self-exams, make sure that you are checking your body regularly. Make sure to have follow-up appointments with your doctor or dermatologist. Wear sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher, broad-spectrum protection, and is waterproof, it must be reapplied every 15 to 20 minutes, and apply to every part of your body that will be exposed to the sun.
Also be careful when outdoors between10 a. m.and 2 p. m. , this is the time when the suns rays are the harshest. There is only one way to determine any type of skin cancer and that is with a skin biopsy. This means that the doctor will take a part or the whole area that is though to be cancerous. Then a biopsy report is sent back with the results. If it comes back positive then there are many options including; freezing, excision, curettage and electrodessication, Mohs surgery, radiation, photodynamic therapy, medicated creams, and/or pills. The treatment that is chosen depends on the type, size, location, and how deep the cancer actually is.
Freezing is used for precancerous types. The doctor simply freezes them by using liquid nitrogen causing the tissues that were frozen to fall off when defrosted. Excision surgery is used on any type of skin cancer. The doctor cuts out the area with the cancerous tissues and the neighboring area of healthy skin to ensure that all the cancer is taken out. Curettage and electrodessication is when the surgeon takes out the layers of cells with a curet. After the layers of cells are out an electric needle then terminates the rest of the cancer cells. It is a very fast and easy treatment that is used against basal and squamous cells.
Mohs surgery is intended for large, recurring cancers that are hard to treat. The growth is removed layer by layer, checking each layer until abnormal cells are not seen. This keeps from having to take the surrounding healthy skin. Radiation is also used when surgery isn’t an option. Photodynamic therapy uses laser lights and drugs that cause the cancer to be sensitive to light, but after this you must avoid sunlight for at least six weeks. Skin cancer may seem minor but it is just as devastating as any other cancer. So with all this said take care of your skin, it protects your inner body from the harsh environment.
Because it does so much for you, do all you can to make sure your skin is healthy. So join the American Cancer Society, and celebrate more birthdays!
Bibliography American Cancer Society. Learn About Cancer. 20 September 2012. Leo and Gloria Rosen family. 2 December 2012 <http://www. cancer. org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/detailedguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-key-statistics>. CEMM Virtual Medical Library. Basal Cell Carcinoma Statistics. CEMM center of excellence for Medical Multimedia. 2 December 2012 <http://www. skincanceratoz. org/Basal-Cell-Carcinoma/Basal-Cell-Carcinoma-Stats. aspx>. Know Cancer.
Top Ten Most Common Types of Cancer. 2012. 3 December 2012 <http://www. knowcancer. com/blog/top-10-most-common-types-of-cancer/>. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Skin Cancer. 10 August 2012. Mayo Clinic. 2 December 2012 <http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/skin-cancer/DS00190/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs >. Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin Cancer Information. 2012. 3 December 2012 <http://www. skincancer. org/skin-cancer-information>. Vandermark, Traci. LIVESTRONG . 27 October 2009. Demand Media. 2 December 2012 <http://www. livestrong. com/article/22662-types-skin-cancer/>.