Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks.
Skin cancer is one of the most common threats of man. In the US for example, more than two million people suffer from the disease every year. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not yet aware of this so they still take part in activities such as sunbathing and going to swimming pools when it is sunny. Most people even think that staying in the shade or car prevents them from the harmful effects of the ultraviolet light that comes from the sun; but unfortunately, this is not true. This means that everybody has to be careful and adopt some preventive tips to control skin cancer. In addition, knowing the causes, signs and symptoms will also be very beneficial.
Causes of skin cancer
The major cause of skin cancer is from ultraviolet light that comes from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun comes in three main forms: UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UVA and UVB rays are the major causes of skin cancer. However, exposure to UVB rays causes greater risks of skin cancer while UVA rays are the major cause of wrinkling and aging. UVC rays have the shortest wavelength (about 100 to 280 nm) so it is usually absorbed in the atmosphere.
Sunlight still has some benefits, it helps the skin to produce vitamin D. In this case, the amount of sunlight that comes in contact with the skin is within a safe level for melanin to contend with. Melanin is a pigment in the skin that helps to absorb the ultraviolet rays from the sun. However, when the intensity of the sun is very high, melanin loses its ability to guard the skin from the dangers of UV rays. In such conditions, sun burn can occur within ten to forty-five minutes. Other causes of skin cancer include the following: exposure to compounds of coal and arsenic, frequent exposure to X-rays, scars on the skin, heredity, and man’s contributions to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Signs and Symptoms
Skin cancer is more prominent on the parts of the body that are always exposed to the sun. These parts include the face, lips, hands and the scalp. However, it also occurs in hidden areas such as the palm and spaces between the fingers and toes. The symptoms of skin cancer include raised bumps that look waxy, red bumps on the face and hands, rough skin and the presence of moles on the face. Cancerous moles can be identified by their shape, color and size. If they are more than six millimeters in diameter and appear in colors such as black or brown, then it is important to seek the help of a doctor.
Treatment for skin cancer varies with the type of skin and intensity of the disease. For mild cases, treatment can be complete by examining or removing the skin tissue that is affected. Doctors may also recommend creams and lotions if the disease is mild. Another way of treating skin cancer is by freezing. Freezing is also applicable to mild cases. This method helps to completely eliminate early skin cancers such as actinic keratoses. Freezing is done with liquid nitrogen.
For skin cancers that have become more intense, the mohs surgery will most likely be used. In mohs surgery, the layers of the skin that are affected are removed one after the other. The layers are removed one after the other to ensure that only the infected parts are examined for treatment.
Other ways of treating skin cancer include radiation and chemotherapy. Radiation is useful for patients who do not have skin that is healthy enough to undergo surgery. Chemotherapy is another option for people who do not want to go through the risks of surgery and exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs. However, it is not an effective means of curing severe cases of skin cancer.
Since treatment for skin cancer can be very expensive and life-threatening, it is better to adopt good prevention tips. The most efficient way of preventing skin cancer is by avoiding the harmful effects of UV rays. This can be achieved through the use of sun blocks. Apart from sun blocks, sun screen also playa an important role in preventing skin cancer. Although sunscreen do not completely shield the skin from UV rays, a substantial amount of the radiation can be prevented. Sunscreen should be worn at all times and buyers should endeavor to get those with an SPF rating of 15 or more. Also, it is important to avoid the use of tanning beds because they also emit ultraviolet rays.