Skin cancer may be classified as one of the less dangerous types of cancer because it is usually characterized by a malignant growth on the skin and is detectable in the early stages.
Only a small minority of people actually die from skin cancer which is the most common kind of cancer but it is important to guard against it and get immediate treatment for if should you suspect you have it.
Basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, and melanoma are the most commonly occurring skin cancers. The chief causes of skin cancer are:
- Excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun is the chief factor that causes skin cancer due to direct or indirect DNA damage and that about 85% cases owe themselves to it.
- Smoking or using tobacco products has been seen to double the risk of getting skin cancer.
- Sometimes burns or other non-healing chronic wounds can also cause skin cancer; the ulceration of the skin caused thereby going on to build up into a squamous cell carcinoma.
- Certain genetic factors also increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, particularly conditions such as the Congenital Melanocytic Nevi Syndrome.
- HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus is also seen to be associated with this cancer.
- Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation can also increase risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer risk can be greatly reduced by taking the following precautions:
- Avoid or limit exposure to ultraviolet rays especially when young. The worst skin damage tends to take place in the early years and can manifest itself in later years in the form of a skin cancer.
- Protect skin before exposing to the sun by using long sleeved clothing, a parasol, sunhats and other protective gear.
- Also use a broad spectrum sun block (which keeps out UVA and UVB rays) which you should replenish periodically when out in the sun, particularly when the sun is high in the sky. It is recommended that if swimming, the sun block should be reapplied every two hours. Use a sun block that is minimum 15 SPF; anything less is of no use and will only lull you into a false sense of security.
- Avoid cigarettes or consuming any kind of tobacco products.
For those of us that enjoy the sun or enjoy having that burnished bronzed look for the skin, it is important to remember not to sacrifice prudence at the altar of vanity!