More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. By age 70, one in five people are expected to develop skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
All skin cancers start in the cells of the skin. It occurs when there are mutations in the DNA of skin cells. The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell skin cancers, squamous cell skin cancers and melanomas.
In most cases, skin cancer develops on the areas of skin exposed to sunlight. It can affect people of any skin tone. That being said, major risk factors include fair skin (less pigmented skin), sunburn history, excessive sun exposure, moles, exposure to toxic chemicals, and a weakened immune system.
Common ways to diagnose skin cancer are having a doctor perform a skin test or skin biopsy of a questionable area. Treatment for skin cancer is dependent on the stage, type, size, location, and general health of a given patient.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. You can also help protect yourself by performing regular skin self-exams. Early detection is key in skin cancers, so if you notice any major changes in the appearance of your skin, contact your doctor.
Good sources of Information:
- Mayo Clinic: Skin Cancer
- National Cancer Institute: Skin Cancer (including Melanoma)
- American Cancer Society: Melanoma Skin Cancer
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Sun Safety
- American Academy of Dermatology: SPOT Skin Cancer
- Skin Cancer Foundation
- Melanoma Research Foundation
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