Of all cancers, skin cancer is the most common. There are two main types of skin cancer; melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. The deadliest type of skin cancer is melanoma which is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Non-melanoma skin cancer is majorly composed of Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). SCC is the least common but most dangerous.
Latest developments in Skin cancer treatment
Scientists are constantly researching for new ways of detecting skin cancer, predicting patient outcomes, inventing new drugs to prevent development of cancer and assess risk. One of the most notable areas that scientists are working on is the invention of new techniques of administering chemotherapy drugs directly on the regions around the tumor as opposed to directing the chemotherapy through the whole body. One of these new techniques is called hyperthermic.
Research is being carried out to establish links between environmental factors, genes and skin cancer. This will help to determine the most appropriate methods that scientists can use when screening people to ascertain the risk for cancer.
Research is also in progress at the National Cancer Institute to develop a new vaccine to fight skin cancer. If successful, this vaccine will help treat patients who have stage III or IV melanoma.
Causes of skin cancer
Skin Cancer occurs when mutation occurs in the DNA of skin cells. This brings about an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells, forming a large mass of cancerous cells. When these cells are left untreated, they spread to other regions and end up becoming difficult or impossible to control.
The leading cause of skin cancer is UV radiation from the sun as well as from tanning beds. Inadequate skin protection causes excessive exposure to these rays. Subsequent exposure to sunlight causes squamous skin and basal cell cancer.
Tanned skin is not a good show of well being despite the fact that many people love to refer to it as a “healthy tan.” It is a sign that your skin has been exposed to UV radiation. This implies that your skin looks wrinkled, sagging and shows some yellowish discoloration. Worse yet, tanning increases your risk of getting skin cancer. A tan offers limited skin protection from sunburn but this depends on your skin type.
Scientific analysis shows that solariums emit UVA as well as UVB radiation both of which are known to cause skin cancer. Due to this reason, the use of solariums for cosmetic tanning is highly discouraged in some countries.
In addition to these, there are other less common causes of skin cancer which include; exposure to X-rays, scars sustained from burns, diseases and being exposed to certain chemicals at the workplace.
Preventing skin cancer and skin protection options available
Skin cancer is preventable. To stay safe from it, you need to follow these tips:
Stay away from the sun during midday. Rays from the sun are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. skin protection is essential during this duration of time and it is advisable that you avoid outdoor activities even during winter when we have cloudy skies.
Always wear your sunscreen all year-round. Though sunscreens do not filter out all harmful UV radiations, they play a great role in preventing skin cancer. You are advised to use a good amount of sunscreen on all parts of the body that are exposed. Such parts include lips, ear tips and the backside of your neck and hands.
Wear protective clothing. Sunscreens do not offer full skin protection from Ultraviolet radiation rays. You need to cover your body using clothing that has been tightly woven and covers your legs and arms too.
Stay away from tanning beds. Research has shown that the lights found in tanning beds aggrevate your chances of getting skin cancer.
How do I protect myself from UV rays?
Having too much exposure to UV radiation increases your chances of getting skin cancer. Given that the sun is the main source of this kind of radiation, this does not mean that you need to completely avoid the sun. These are some of the tips that you can use to limit your exposure to UV radiation:
Seek out some shade if you are going to stay in the sun for long
Wear clothes that provide optimal skin protection. This includes clothes such as long-sleeved shirts, and long skirts.
Use sunscreen to protect you skin from the sun.
Wear a hat that has a brim of at least 2 or 3 inches in order to limit the amount of skin that is exposed to sunlight.
Wear sunglasses. These enhance skin protection on the delicate area round your eyes as well as the eyes themselves.
What gear is used to protect the skin?
As mentioned above, skin protection is quite essential when it comes to preventing skin cancer. You need to put on some gear that limits exposure of your skin to UV radiation. Some of these items are:
Protective Clothing: You are advised to wear shirts that have long sleeves and long skirts to cover as much skin as possible.
A Hat and Sunglasses: A wide brimmed hat goes a long way in protecting your face, the tips of your ears and areas around your neck. Sunglasses protect your eyes and regions around them.
Sunscreen: Use of sunscreen should be coupled with other strategies that help to prevent rays from the sun. It should be applied on areas that have been affected by sunshine.
UV protective swimwear: Much of your skin is exposed while at the beach or swimming pool. You need to protect it around the clock using UV protection swimwear which is used alongside a sunscreen and staying under a shade.