Everything You Need To Know About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is an extremely common type of cancer, but it's also one of the easiest to prevent and treat if caught early. Knowing what causes it, who is more vulnerable, and what treatment options are available can help protect you and your loved ones. Here's what you need to know.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
The primary cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. When UV radiation penetrates the skin, it damages the DNA in skin cells, leading to mutations that can cause cancer.
Who Is More Vulnerable?
Anyone can develop skin cancer, but certain factors can increase your risk, including:
- People with fair skin
- Blondes and redheads
- People with blue or green eyes
- Those with a family history of skin cancer
Additionally, people with weakened immune systems due to diseases or medications, outdoor workers, and frequent tanning bed users are also at higher risk. In fact, if you have had just five sunburns in your life — who hasn't? — you double your risk of developing melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer.
What Does Skin Cancer Look Like?
Skin cancer is often characterized by a mole, freckle, or spot that has changed in size, shape, or color. It may also be a sore that doesn't heal or a lump on the skin. You should examine your skin regularly and be aware of any changes to your moles or other skin lesions. If you notice such a change, see your doctor for a closer examination.
What Are Treatment Options?
The treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size, location, and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health. In many cases, the cancerous cells can be removed with surgery, while more advanced cancers may require a combination of treatments, including:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
The important takeaway is that skin cancer is curable. Even melanoma has a 99 percent survival rate after five years if caught early.
How Do You Prevent Skin Cancer?
The best way to fight skin cancer is not to get it in the first place. To protect yourself from skin cancer, take preventative measures, including wearing UV protective clothing, staying in the shade, and using sunscreen daily. Additionally, check your skin regularly for any changes and get regular skin cancer screenings from your doctor.
Knowing the risk factors and taking preventative measures can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. If you notice any changes in your skin, such as new growths or changes in existing moles, see your dermatologist right away. By taking care of your skin, you can protect yourself.