There are three main types of skin cancer. These are malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. While melanoma is the most life-threatening of the three, it is also the most common. Melanoma will usually appear as a large mole or lesion on the skin, and usually suddenly. It generally tends to appear on the lower-backs of men and the lower-legs of women, though in elderly, sun-damaged persons, it is also prone to forming on the head and neck. While treatment is very successful when caught in the early stages, waiting too long can dramatically decrease the success rate of treatments. Catching the cancer early can result in simply having the mole-looking cancer removed, but if a patient delays treatment for any reason the cancer may spread to other (possibly vital) organs such as the digestive tract, lungs, eyes, or lymph nodes.
The number of cases of melanoma in America is on the rise. According to the American Cancer Society, 6 in every 100,000 people had melanoma in 1973, but the rate has doubled to 12 in 100,000 in 1999. In 1998 alone, the disease claimed 7,300 people, which is a rate of one person every hour. Populations at a higher risk of developing skin cancer are those with strong sunlight all year round. Places such as Arizona have higher numbers of persons who develop skin cancers because they have a greater chance of overexposure to UV rays. Melanoma has been reported to be the most common form of cancer in America, and has also been shown to occur more frequently in superficial situations. Places such as tanning beds only emit UV-A rays, which is what causes skin to tan and was also once thought to be less harmful than UV-B rays. Research has now shown that it is the UV-A rays that actually aid in the formation of skin cancers.
There is also a percentage of the population...
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...ut no one is immune. One should perform regular full body examinations approximately once a month, during which people should be looking for any irregular skin lesions or raised portions that have a dark blue, brown or black coloration that may be varied throughout. This may look like a mole, but will lack the symmetry of a mole, and will probably have an ill-formed border. Most people will know which moles have always been on their bodies, and which may be new growths, but when and if one comes across something strange or unfamiliar, they should see a doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis, so that the cancer may be treated as early as possible. While many people view tan skin as desirable, it can truly kill, and those people need to be further educated on the dangers of tanning. Everyone should take preventative measures to save the health of their skin. Using a sun block and reapplying as needed, as well as limiting time spent in the sun are very important in aiding to the longevity of anyone’s life. It is important to remember the factors that may put someone at greater risk, but also that everyone and anyone can succumb to the potentially fatal disease that is melanoma.
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