Although there are several types of skin cancer, the most common are melanoma, basal call carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Although melanoma is not found as often as other skin cancers, it is one of the most well known because it causes the most deaths related to skin cancer. Melanoma is hard to treat, with the most effective option being simply removing the part of the skin that is affected. However, this has to be done early in order to be at all successful. There are approximately 160,000 new cases of melanoma each year.
Approximately 48,000 people die of melanoma each year. Melanoma can be caused by exposure to the sun. This is particularly significant if a person has had a bad sunburn during childhood. White males usually get melanoma more than any other group, and people living in sunny climates are at higher risk. There is also a genetic risk factor.
Melanomas are usually noticed by detecting a change in skin moles. If there is any change to the mole, this might mean that a melanoma is present. Individuals should check their moles to see if the size, color or shape has changed.
They should also alert their doctor if a mole becomes itchy or starts to bleed. If a patient has a family history of melanoma, they should be examined by a doctor at least once a year as part of a preventative plan.
Squamous cell carcinoma is a tumor of the epithelium cells. It occurs in many areas of the body besides the skin including the mouth, lungs and cervix. Squamous cell carcinomas make up about 20% of all skin cancer cases.
It is most often caused by continuous exposure to sunlight over a long period of time. If an area is suspected to be cancerous, a biopsy will be done. If cancer is found, surgery will be done to remove the area.
The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. In the United States, there are approximately 800,000 new cases per year. It occurs most commonly in individuals who have fair skin and have been exposed to the sun.
There is also a genetic component, as this cancer also occurs in areas which are not exposed to the sun. Luckily, basal cell carcinomas rarely cause death and can be treated successfully in most cases. They can cause disfiguration when the cancer is on the nose, lips, ears, or eyes.
If you suspect that you might have skin cancer, you should contact your doctor or a dermatologist to have the area examined. It is also a good idea to have your doctor check out your skin during your yearly physical.
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