Skin cancer is the world’s most commonly occurring cancer, with an estimated 1 in 5 Americans developing skin cancer by 70. It is essential to understand the different factors that increase skin cancer risk and the appropriate preventative measures to help lower your risk.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer occurs when malignant cells form within the tissues of the skin. It can develop anywhere on a person’s body but is most commonly found in areas like the face and hands.
There are three types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. All three types are severe and require treatment. However, melanoma is considered the most threatening because it can spread to other areas of the body.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Many factors can contribute to your risk of developing skin cancer. Certain individuals have a greater risk due to genetics, as are people with previous personal or family histories of skin cancer.
Most skin cancers result from exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Sun exposure, as well as artificial UV light sources, are the leading risk for skin cancer. People who spend more extended amounts of time in the sun due to work or recreation, as well as people who live in sunny areas, are more likely to be at risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes.
Other risks factors of skin cancer include:
- Frequent indoor our outdoor tanning
- Frequent sunburns
- Immune suppression
- Smoking habits
- Chemical exposure (arsenic, paraffin, industrial tar)
Practicing sun safety is important to lower the chance of developing skin cancer. This means wearing protective clothing like hats and sunglasses, staying in the shade when possible, and always wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
Skin cancer may be the most common type of cancer, but it is also treatable. You must schedule regular exams with your dermatologist to assess your skin’s condition and catch early cancer signs. When skin cancer is detected early, it increases the 5-year survival rate by 99%.
Are you concerned you might have skin cancer? Call us at Musick Dermatology, (618) 628-2588, and let us help.