Skin Cancer Of all different kinds of cancer, skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. Skin cancer is a disease which cancer cells are found on the outer layers of the skin. Your skin protects the body from heat, infection, light, injury and infection. It also stores fat, water, and vitamin D. The skin has two layers and several different kinds of cells. With a certain lifestyle these cells can become cancerous.

(Prodigy Web Browser: An Introduction to skin Cancer {NET}, 1997) Melanoma is associated with the highest case-fatality rate of all skin cancers. (Mortality and Mobility Weekly Report Vol. 45/No. 17, {MMWR}, 1996) Numerous studies have delineated the natural history of skin cancers. Some cell carcinomas tend to grow and invade slowly and steadily.

Certain subtypes are more aggressive, and certain sites of occurrence (scalp, shoulders and nose) are associated with worse cases. Malignant melanoma may have a thin stage, in which survival rates are excellent. The length of thin, or radial, growth phase may be months to years. If untreated at some point melanoma enters a quick growth phase. When this occurs the survival rates plummet. (Brandt, 1996) Skin Cancer can be avoided.

A change in lifestyle can reduce the risk of skin cancer. This includes awareness of the reality of skin cancer, avoiding the sun, and self-examination and screening. Most of the time when people think of a serious disease they think of things like lung cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and other hot topic diseases of that nature. Skin cancer awareness and the seriousness of skin cancer is far less emphasized. The MMWR did a survey of knowledge of and awareness about melanoma in the united states in 1995. In 1996, an estimated 38, 300 cases of melanoma were diagnosed, and an approximately 7300 melanoma deaths would occur.

Intervention strategies can be developed with information and public awareness of melanoma. (MMWR) To help awareness and public knowledge about melanoma, the American Academy of Dermatology conducted a nation wide survey in 1995. (shown in appendix A) This report summarizes the survey findings, which indicate that a high proportion (42%) of respondents had no knowledge about melanoma. The level of awareness was lowest among persons aged 18 to 24 years of age. (MMWR) Respondents were asked 'Can you tell me what melanoma is?' ; 55% knew it was a type of cancer, 34% knew it was a type of skin cancer and 42% did not know about melanoma. After being informed on melanoma, they identified at least one risk factor of it.

Most identified the risk involved with exposure to the sun. Awareness also was varied substantially by demographic factors including sex, race, age, education, income, and religion. (MMWR) In recent decades worshipping the sun has become a cult. A deep tan and is popularly regarded as a sign of robust health and beauty. Some go as far as using artificial tanning milk if they can't get one naturally. While millions bask in the sun and follow the sun far south in winter, artificially produced tanning rays can give people their tan at home.

(Brody, 1982) Unfortunately, ultra violent rays are a trouble maker. A good appreciation for the sun's harm is long overdue. Most people won't abandon their sun god overnight, dermatologist hope that a better understanding on the sun's harm will inspire a safer form of worship. (Brody) The lack of understanding has spawned fatal and very morbid cases of skin cancer. Certain factors such as skin type and time of exposure also determine the risk of cancer. There are certain precautions than can be taken to help lesson the affects of sun exposure.

Use of sun blocking agents such as sunscreens, hats and protective apparel other can reduce the risks substantially. Sunscreens, not to be confused with tanning oils, come in different degree's of protection. According to skin type and time of day determine what level of sunscreen is sufficient protection. (Brody) It is smart to apply sunscreen with an at least SPF-15 or higher, to all areas of the body that are exposed to the sun. Apply again every two hours, even on cloudy days. Also after swimming or perspiring.

Avoid exposure to ultra violent rays such as sun lamps or tanning parlors. Keep children protected from excessive sun exposure especially when the sun is the strongest (10: 00 AM and 3: 00 PM). (NET) Always consult a physician with questions concerning health affects to ultra violent exposure. The third change in lifestyle is self-examination and screening. There should be no excuse for it when a safe, inexpensive screening test exist and when a person can learn what to look for at home. Screening is most helpful when the disease is highly prevalent, and a natural history of the disease is known.

(Brandt) Self-examination requires no time. A person should look for black spots on the skin and rapid growth of moles and freckles. (Brandt) Skin cancer is a terrible disease that causes fatal and morbid results. I seems as if it is a topic that is left alone and that makes the disease even more dangerous.

It is sad to think that so many people suffer from a cancer that could have been so easily prevented with proper precautions and education that require none to little effort what so ever. Just a small adjustment in one's lifestyle.