May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
The most common type of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. Each year over 5 million cases are diagnosed, and everyone is at risk. Skin cancer affects people of all ages, races, and genders. Almost all cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The first and easiest way to combat skin cancer is to have sufficient protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. By applying a high-SPF sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body and wearing hats, sunglasses, and clothing such as long sleeves and pants ensures a layer of defense.
About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 85 percent of melanoma cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Fortunately, it is also one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer. Early detection, awareness, and diagnosis are essential to achieving the most favorable outcome.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer because it starts on the outer layer of the skin (lower epidermis). According to the American Cancer Society, it accounts for 80% of all skin cancer cases. Although it is more likely to happen in fair-skinned individuals, anyone can develop basal cell carcinoma. In most cases, it is found on areas of the body frequently exposed to the sun.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Accounting for about 20% of cases, squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, which typically affects the outer layers of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma can grow in deeper layers of the skin and spread to other parts of the body and, cause serious damage due to the broader penetration into the skin.
Even though melanoma is not a common type of skin cancer since it accounts for only 1% of all skin cancer cases, it is by far the deadliest. Melanoma typically begins in an existing mole or a new one but because it is known to have rapid growth and the ability to spread to other organs makes it the most fatal type of skin cancer. Taking necessary precautions, using sunscreens, and scheduling yearly checkups with a trusted physician can greatly reduce the chances of skin cancer.
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