Skin Cancer Awareness
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma , and malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because the cancer can spread to other organs in the body (metastasis). Melanoma skin cancer is usually pigmented or coloured and is more dangerous. Many moles aren't cancerous, but it's vital to keep an eye on them.
A range of treatment options have proved successful in treating skin cancer. But about 1,800 people still die from malignant melanoma skin cancer annually. Treatment may include surgical removal, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or biological therapy, depending on the type of skin cancer. When skin cancer is found early it is much easier to treat. If diagnosed late, treatment is not usually able to cure the cancer.
Malignant melanoma is more common in women than men, is one of the most common cancers in people aged 20 to 35 and affects people who work indoors more than those who work outside. Non-melanoma skin cancer affects men more than women, as well as older people, particularly those who have spent much time working outdoors. Too much sun exposure and getting sunburnt in childhood and the teenage years can lead to skin cancer in later life, so children in particular must be protected.
Those most at risk of skin cancer are people with light or fair skin, freckles, who burn lobster red in the sun, already have moles and/or spend too long in the sun without protection. Brown- or black-skinned people rarely get skin cancer, but everyone should be careful. There are some rare, inherited skin diseases that make people highly sensitive to sunlight and much more likely to get any type of skin cancer.
As it's not always possible to differentiate between skin cancers and benign skin conditions by examination alone, you may need to have a biopsy. If it's confirmed as cancer, it'll be removed by surgery or radiotherapy, depending on its size and type.
UVB is known to cause sunburn and skin cancer, so sun creams were originally designed to block out only the UVB. We now know that UVA can also cause skin cancer and, these days, some sun creams block out a lot of UVA as well as UVB.
However, the main concern is that, because sun creams prevent burning, they make people think they can spend much longer in the sun, which will definitely increase their risk of getting skin cancer.
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