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Article 3 (May 2019): Skin Cancer 101

May 30, 2019
For decades, we've passed on the baby oil in favor of slathering on sunblock. The public health campaigns that warned of the dangers of skin cancer were effective, though some questions still remain.
 
How does one develop skin cancer and why is it so serious?
 
According to skincancer.org, most skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun and tanning beds, with UV damage causing DNA damage to skin cells. This triggers mutations or genetic defects that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors.
 
However, certain skin cancers are caused by other factors like genetics or other environmental influences and may even occur on parts of the body that are rarely exposed to the sun. Darker-skinned people are more susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), an especially virulent form of melanoma that typically appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, according to the site.
 
More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, with about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers associated with exposure to UV from the sun. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer (4.3 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year), with squamous cell carcinoma second (more than 1 million cases).
 
The website says an estimated 192,310 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2019.
 
Melanoma is particularly dangerous because it is more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not caught early.
 
The good news is that all types of skin cancer are quite treatable if caught early, so prevention and detection are key. In addition to checking your body for signs of abnormalities and regular visits to the dermatologist, most health professionals advise the use of a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher and to limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
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