What Is Skin Cancer? How Common Is Skin Cancer? Who Is At Risk?

Cancer is increasingly claiming lives across the globe. The disease results from alteration of body cells to behave in strange ways that affect natural processes in the body including hair growth and skin nourishment. While there are many types of cancer depending on the affected body part, which also denote the cause, skin cancer is prevalent. Unlike other types of cancer, skin cancer is not biased on age, sex, or location. The abnormal growth of skin cells are attributed to long exposure to the sun and strong radiations. This type of cancer can easily be detected through keen observation of changes on skin surface. While there is no specific treatment for skin cancer, early diagnosis increases the chances of managing and slowing the cell multiplication.

There are different types of skin cancer that proper diagnosis helps in determination of treatment options and prognosis after doing skin cancer check.

Types of Skin cancer

  1. Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Long exposure to the sun is the primary cause of this type of cancer. Usually, it affects the arms, head, and areas around the neck.  These body parts are easily exposed to the sun hence more vulnerable to effects from UV lights. While the sun is identified as the main cause, this type of cancer can occur anywhere on the body where the sun rays do not reach easily. It is considered treatable because of the common cause.

  1. Melanoma skin cancer

It is important to identify the cause of cancer before embarking on any treatment procedure. Melanoma is less common but still a threat in the health industry. The fact that it is rear does not make you safe. Melanoma is renowned to easily spread to other parts of the body not necessarily exposed to the sun. There are no specific symptoms to this type; it shares all other common changes on the skin that are related to cancer. Nevertheless, proper diagnosis in a laboratory is the best and sure way of determining this type of cancer.

  1. Merkel cell skin cancer

This is a unique type because it is caused by a virus known as MCV. The virus was discovered in 2008 hence there is still background work on research going on to establish the cause and treatment to this virus, which attack the skin cells. Although there is no certainty on the cause of this type of cancer, UV rays are pointed to as the primary cause. Sources of UV rays range from sun, tanning beds, to psoriasis treatments.

How common is skin cancer?

Cancer, in general, involves growth of foreign cells in the body that replace normal body cells thus affecting body processes. Cancer ranges from bone marrow, lung cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, to breast cancer among others.

Skin cancer is common in comparison to all the other cancer types; the obvious reason being exposed to UV rays, which is a common risk factor. We get exposed to these rays everyday either from the sun or from mobile gadgets. In one way or another, UV rays reach our skin. While there are other causes of skin cancer, scientists have proven and tested UV rays as the major cause.

Cancer types are divided in to two categories; melanoma cancer that attributes to 1% of deaths across the world and non-melanoma cancer that cause 75% of deaths.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can get cancer depending on exposure to UV rays, which is the primary cause. There are ongoing debates on whether light skin people are more exposed to skin cancer than people with dark skin. While there is a difference in skin intensity and density that makes UV rays penetrate deep to the body cells and blood vessels, there is no difference in vulnerability. Of course, light skin burns more when exposed to the sun than dark skin. Still, it lays no basis for blanket theories.

Also, there are various causes of skin cancer. Although UV rays are the primary known cause, skin cancer also occurs in area not directly exposed to the sun rays and light from other powerful sources. As such, people of all ages, race, and geographical locations are exposed are at risk of getting skin cancer. It all depends with exposure to the different causes.

Risk factors

Excessive exposure to the sun is almost a guarantee to development of skin cancer. If you have to spend a lot of time on the sun, then carry yourself a form of protection. There are sunscreens and capes that can protect your head, neck, or arms from long exposure to the sun rays.

If you have a history of sunburns since childhood, there is a high likelihood of developing skin cancer in adulthood. However, blisters are a universal sign of vulnerability to UV rays that exposes one to skin damage hence death of normal body cells.

People with less melanin have a high risk of developing the disease. Melanin is not only for color but also for protection of the skin against radiations. Light-colored eyes and blonde hair are the common characteristics of people that get easily damaged by UV rays.

Location is also a contributing factor to vulnerability of skin damage. People living in high elevations and warm climates in general have higher risk of developing skin cancer.