Skin cancer is the most common of all forms of cancer. Basal cell and squamous cell are the two most common and are highly curable. Melanoma, which is the third most common type of skin cancer, is the most dangerous, although it can usually be successfully treated if caught in the early stages.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the most common cause of skin cancer, especially the three most common types. UV light is a type of radiation that is invisible. It comes from the sun or the light from tanning beds or tanning lamps.
Although there are different types of UV rays, not all of them reach the earth’s surface. Of those that do, UVA is the most prominent. It reaches the top layer of the skin, and too much exposure to it can damage the connective tissue beneath. This puts a person at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. In addition to sunburn, UV rays can cause the skin’s texture to change and make it age prematurely. This change in texture increases the chances of developing skin cancer.
UV rays that reach beyond the skin’s outer layer into the inner layers cause it to produce more pigment known as melanin. When this happens, the melanin moves toward the surface of the skin and causes a tan.
There are a variety of skin types, with each type responding to UV exposure somewhat differently. People with skin that always burns but never tans after exposure along with those who burn easily with minimal tanning are at the highest risk of developing skin cancer. These individuals should limit their exposure to the sun and use extra protection in the form or sunscreen and protective layers of clothing when outside, especially when the sun is highest in the sky. Even though this is a good practice for everyone, it is critical for those who burn easily.
People with a lighter natural skin tone are at a higher risk than most for skin cancer. Individuals with blue or green eyes or those with red or blonde hair are also more at risk. A family or personal history of the disease also increases a person’s chances. These are factors over which persons have no control.
Risk factors based on present or past activities include a history of sunburns. Those that happen early in life put people at higher risk. People who have a history of indoor tanning and those that spend a lot of time in the sun also have a higher chance of developing skin cancer than they would otherwise have.
As with all types of cancer, catching it early greatly improves the success rate of treatment. As such, those with present or past risk factors should have a discussion about skin cancer with our professionals at Fine Arts Skin and Laser in Dover. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.