Skin Cancer What is it and how to prevent it Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. In this presentation I plan to discuss a little about each of these cases as well as tell ways to prevent and treat them. The first most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. This cancer develops in the basal or bottom layer of the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin. The cause of this cancer is a gene called patched or PTC, which helps to control cell growth and development.

If this gene is missing, defective, or damaged by ultra violet radiation, unrestrained cell proliferation may result. Basal cell carcinoma usually appears as a small, fleshy bump, which most often appears on the head, neck, or hands. This type of cancer seldom occurs in African Americans, but they are the most common skin cancers found in fair- skinned persons. These tumors don't spread quickly.

It could take months or years for one to grow to a diameter of one- half inch. If untreated the cancer could begin to bleed, crust over, heal and then the cycle repeats. The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer develops in the upper layers of the epidermis. Although this cancer is more aggressive than basal cell cancer, it is still relatively slow growing and is more likely to spread to other locations, including internal organs. Squamous cell cancer is usually found on the rim of the ear, the face, the lips and mouth.

However, the disease is usually painless, but may become painful with the development of ulcers that do not heal. This cancer often originates from sun- damaged skin and usually begins at age 50. When found and treated early as well as properly, the cure rate by dermatological surgery is 95%. The third and most deadly skin cancer is malignant melanoma. This cancer develops in the pigment cells, which are found throughout the basal layer. Although melanoma is almost always curable when detected early, it is responsible for three quarters of all skin cancer deaths.

About 48, 000 new cases are diagnosed annually in the United States. About 7, 700 people die from this disease each year. Melanoma may suddenly appear without warning but it may also begin in or near a mole or other dark spots in the skin. The most important step you can make is to have any changing mole examined by a dermatologist so that any early melanoma can be removed while still in the curable stage. Heredity can also play a role since a person has an increased chance of developing melanoma if a family member has had melanoma. Warning signs of melanoma include: changes in the surface of a mole, scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a new bump, spread of pigment from the border into surrounding skin, and change in sensation including itchiness, tenderness, or pain.

In conclusion, skin cancer is a danger to all whom work or dwell in the sun while at its peak. To prevent skin cancer of any kind, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people avoid the sun at its peak, which is from 10 am-4 pm. Use sunscreen regularly. Any skin changes or abnormalities should be reported to a physician. In the event that you do develop skin cancer, there are surgical methods used to remove cancerous tissue. In some cases tissue is destroyed through the application of intense cold or cryosurgery.

In advanced cases, surgical removal of tissue along with radiation, chemotherapy, or both may be required. Take careful precautions while outside, and wear clothing such as hats to help lower your chances of developing skin cancer.