Skin Cancer: Symptoms, Risks, and Prevention

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly to treat.

Source: ASDS

Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths.

  • Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cell layer of the skin.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma begins in the squamous layer of the skin.
  • Melanoma begins in the melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.

The majority of cases of these three types of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly to treat. Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. The majority of cases of these three types of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds/ sunbeds, and sunlamps. UV rays can penetrate and damage skin cells.

The three types of UV rays are ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC).

  • Most UV rays that reach the surface of the earth are UVA rays. UVA rays can reach deep into human skin and damage connective tissue and the skin’s DNA.
  • Most UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, so fewer of them reach the earth’s surface compared to UVA rays. UVB rays, which help produce vitamin D in the skin, don’t reach as far into the skin as UVA rays, but they can still cause sunburn and damage DNA.
  • UVC rays are very dangerous, but they are absorbed completely by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth’s surface.

In addition to causing sunburn, too much exposure to UV rays can change skin texture, cause the skin to age prematurely, and can lead to skin cancer. UV rays also have been linked to eye conditions such as cataracts.

What are the symptoms of Skin Cancer?

A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole. Not all skin cancers look the same.

For melanoma specifically, a simple way to remember the warning signs is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma

  • A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
  • B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
  • C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
  • D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
  • E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?

Talk to your doctor if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.

What are the risk factors for skin cancer?

Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain characteristics are at greater risk.

  • A lighter natural skin color
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Blond or red hair
  • Certain types and a large number of moles
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • A personal history of skin cancer
  • Older age.

Regardless of whether you have any of the risk factors listed above, reducing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can help keep your skin healthy and lower your chances of getting skin cancer in the future. Most people get at least some UV exposure from the sun when they spend time outdoors. Making sun protection an everyday habit will help you to enjoy the outdoors safely, avoid getting a sunburn, and lower your skin cancer risk.

Indoor tanning (using a tanning bed, booth, sunbed, or sunlamp to get tan) exposes users to high levels of UV radiation. When UV rays reach the skin’s inner layer, the skin makes more melanin. Melanin is the pigment that colors the skin. It moves toward the outer layers of the skin and becomes visible as a tan.

A tan does not indicate good health. A tan is your skin’s response to injury, because skin cells signal that they have been hurt by UV rays by producing more pigment. Any change in skin color after UV exposure (whether it is a tan or a burn) is a sign of injury, not health. Over time, too much exposure to UV rays can cause skin cancers including melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. UV exposure can also cause cataracts and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma). Every time you tan, you increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

How to reduce the risks of Skin Cancer?

Protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year, not just during the summer or at the beach. UV rays from the sun can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, not just on bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow.

The hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are the most hazardous for UV exposure outdoors.

Here are recommended easy options for protection from UV radiation

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Source: US CDC

About STELLA

Stellapharm is one of leading generics pharmaceutical companies and strong producer of anti-viral drugs in Vietnam. The company established in Vietnam in 2000; and focuses on both prescription drugs and non-prescription especially in cardiovascular diseases, antiviral drugs, anti-diabetics drugs, etc. and our products are now used by millions of patients in more than 50 countries worldwide.

The company is globally recognized for its quality through our facilities have been audited and approved by stringent authority like EMA, PMDA, Taiwan GMP, local WHO and others.

Additional information for this article: Stellapharm J.V. Co., Ltd. – Branch 1
A: 40 Tu Do Avenue, Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park, An Phu Ward, Thuan An City, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam
T: +84 274 376 7470 | F: +84 274 376 7469 | E: info@stellapharm.com | W: www.stellapharm.com

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