In our last article, we covered a brief introduction to skin cancer. Before we get into detailed information about symptoms, treatment and prognosis, it’s important to dispel some common myths about skin cancer and what it means to protect your skin.
Following are the four biggest misconceptions about skin cancer:
1. You only need to visit a dermatologist once a year
Most people are under the impression that a yearly visit (if at all) to the dermatologist for a mole check is all you really need to stay on top of things and be pre-warned about any possible cancer signs. However, while this may be true for some lucky people, the truth is that if you’re fair skinned, have suffered sever sun burns in the past and/or have a family history of melanoma, you’re at a much higher risk for skin cancer and you should see a dermatologist at least twice a year. You should always have your skin profiled by a qualified medical expert to better understand your particular skin type, its vulnerability to certain risks and the ways you can protect it.
2. Sunscreen should be applied when you get to the beach
Most of us put the sunscreens in our bags and purses before heading out and only lather them on when we finally hit the beach. However, such a short notice is not enough for the sunscreen to do its work. Sunscreens take around an hour to absorb into your skin so you should always apply them well in time. And since you’re exposed to sunlight as soon as you head outside- and not the moment you step on the sand- you shouldn’t wait to be fully exposed to the sun before applying sunscreen.
3. Base tans are harmless
Tanning is essentially skin damage so the mentality that base tans protect you from burns and skin damage is a total myth. The base tan basically involves you dipping yourself into harmful UVA/UVB rays two times over. Skin damage is inevitable and no amount of self-assurances is going to change that!
4. Dark skinned people don’t need to worry
Fair skinned people have historically been at higher risk for skin cancer but dark skinned people aren’t safe either. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate on the basis of skin color and you could get it even if you have dark skin and have never had bad sun burns. In fact, skin cancers are more difficult to detect in darker skins because the signs are not as easily recognizable as they are with fair skins.
Visit MedHelp clinic today for more skin advice.
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Did you know that melanoma (a skin cancer) is the second most common type of cancer in women aged 20 to 29? Or that it takes the life of a person every hour? If you didn’t already, these alarming statistics should provide you with enough reason to find out more about skin cancer and what you can do to protect yourself.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer develops as a result of damaged DNA (a molecule found in cells that encode genetic information), in skin cells, that continues to grow and divide because the body is unable to repair or heal the damage. Because skin cancer usually develops in the outermost layers of the skin (the epidermis), it is detectable in its early stages. However, most people keep ignoring the signs until the cancer becomes a painful problem.
What are the types of skin cancers?
Almost 100% of skin cancers are attributed for by three major types. The three cancers are named after the different types of cells they begin from. Skin cancers are classified as melanoma and non-melanoma cancers. Melanoma is life-threatening.
Following are the three types of cancers:
- Melanoma: Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer and accounts for over 4% of all skin cancers. It begins in the melanocytes cells in the skin but quickly spreads to the internal organs. New or changing moles are often the tell-tale signs of melanoma which is why it’s important for you to know your existing benign moles very well.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): 200,000 of diagnosed skin cancers (about 16% of the total) are Squamous cell carcinoma. This cancer begins in the squamous cells (present in the upper layer of the epidermis) and mostly occurs as a result of long term exposure to the sun. Symptoms include crusted or scaly area of the skin that has a pink base.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): Accounting for 80% of diagnosed skin cancers (nearly 1 million cases in the US alone) the Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It starts from the basal cells located in the lowest layer of the epidermis and can appear as a nodule, a sore, a growth, irritated/reddish patches and even as a waxy scar on the skin.
Because skin cancers can result in very varied symptoms- and surface in parts of your body where you would least expect them- it’s important for you to visit a dermatologist every six months- especially if you have a family history of skin cancer.
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