The skin is one of our body’s most remarkable parts. As the largest organ it acts as a barrier from external elements like water, chemicals, and invaders like germs and bacteria. However, there are certain situations in which the skin’s defense system is compromised which lead to permanent damage, and in severe cases may eventually lead to skin cancer.
The disease occurs when there is rapid multiplication of damaged cells in a particular area of the skin. When cells start to multiply in an uncontrollable manner, they form a raised patch, more often visible to the eyes and can be noticed as having a darker color than the rest of the skin.
The disease is not only limited to middle aged men and women, but it can also strike kids and older people. There are basically 3 types of skin cancer:
- basal cell carcinoma (most common; 80%)
- squamous cell carcinoma (16%)
- melanoma (accounts for 4% and considered as the most lethal skin cancer among its types).
Skin Cancer Interesting Facts
- In every hour, 1 person dies from melanoma – Contrary to what most people know about skin cancer (that it won’t cause death), skin cancer especially the melanoma type causes death to about 8,000 people per year (in US alone). The sad thing is that, it should have been treated successfully if only they have practiced basic prevention on skin cancer.
- 1 million cases of skin cancer expected this year – American Cancer Society estimates that this year, about 1 million cases of skin cancer will be detected. The reasons for this rise is due to the worsening of the condition of our environment (further exposing us to harmful UV rays) and of course through artificial means like tanning beds.
- Caucasians Alert: 1 in every 3 Caucasians is diagnosed with Skin Cancer – people who are fair-skinned are a lot more susceptible to skin cancer than dark skinned people.
- Parts of the World with Highest rate of Skin Cancer – Places with high rates of skin cancer are: Eastern Europe and Central Asia (due to high altitude and thinner atmosphere), United States, Canada, Pacific, Cuba, and also Northern Europe.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
Preventing skin cancer is not as hard as we may think of. It’s not so expensive and it is easy to do. Most of the preventive measures for skin cancer are focused on the limits when it comes to exposure to the sun (its harmful UV rays) and also using sunscreens to avoid UV rays from penetrating the skin. Here are quick tips for you to follow:
- Avoid exposure to the sun during peak hours—10AM to 4PM
- Wear Sun protection clothing and hats. This may include a wide hat that covers the entire face, and also long sleeved clothing.
- Wear Sunscreens or lotions that have Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It should be applied on skin 30 minutes before sun exposure, to make sure that it bonds first to the skin. Reapply every 2 hours if needed.
- As much as possible, try to avoid tanning beds.
- Increase your sun protection if you have family history of skin cancer.