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Skin Cancer: Detection and Prevention

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US, with over 2 million people diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Over the past three decades more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. For that reason it is good to know what risks encourage unnatural skin cell growth.

Risk factors for developing cancer:

  • Too much exposure to the sun
  • Fair skin
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • People over the age of 40 are at higher risk of developing skin cancer

There are three different types of skin cancer; basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and the easiest to treat. It affects the cells in the top layers of the skin and does not spread. Squamous cell carcinoma is also usually easy to treat, affecting the cells in the middle layer of the skin and does not spread either. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because it tends to spread and can affect the organs of the body. It can be fatal in some cases, although if caught early, it is also often treatable.

It is very important to examine your skin every so often checking for spots that refuse to heal, begin to bleed, remain itchy or just stand out. If you see any changes in appearance of moles or new spots appear you will want to visit a dermatologist.

Here are some guidelines to reduce your risks:

  • Avoid extreme and long exposure to the sun between 10am and 4pm
  • Use sunblock, minimum of SPF 15, especially on your nose and ears daily
  • Avoid sunburns, by re-applying sunblock every 2-3 hours
  • After you have been in the water, reapply your sunblock to ensure protection
  • Do not make regular trips to the tanning booths, they can also cause skin cancers

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