Skin Cancer: Know the Facts

 By: Jessica Vandelay
Skin cancer is the most common cancer with more than 1 million Americans diagnosed per year. The most common skin cancers are carcinomas involving basal or squamous cells and can usually be cured by removal. While Melanoma is the least common skin cancer, it is the deadliest, and can be fatal if not detected early. Melanoma is fatal in 45% of cases.

Melanoma is a type of cancer that starts in melanocytes, which are cells that make the pigment melanin. Melanoma often starts as a mole but can also start in other pigmented tissue such as the eyes or the intestines. Scientists and medical researchers continue to learn new things about the causes, prevention and treating melanoma every day. There are four stages of melanoma. The earlier melanoma is detected and treated the better chance the patient has of surviving the disease.

While all skin tones are susceptible to skin cancer people with fair skin are at a higher risk. If you have red, blonde or light brown hair you need to take extra precautions. People with a large number of freckles or moles are also at a greater risk as is anyone with a family history of skin cancer.

Get in the habit of examining your entire body once a month. For best results examine skin in a well-lit room. Use a mirror for hard-to-see areas and a full-length mirror for your backside. If you still feel like you cannot see an area on your body, do not be embarrassed to ask your spouse or friend to assist you.

You should be familiar with all the marks including moles, freckles, scars, age spots, birthmarks and any other lesions on your body. Make note of the size, shape, color, texture and condition of all your markings. Some characteristics may indicate potential cancers: asymmetry, irregular borders, change in color, large in diameter and raised or uneven textures. If anything seems unusual, consult your doctor. To stay on top of skin cancer news see magazine titles such as Advances in Skin and Wound Care and Bottom Line/Health.


Fortunately skin cancers are preventable without much effort. Skin cancer is preventable by limiting sunlight exposure, especially during UV radiation peak times between 11am-3pm, avoiding tanning beds and by liberally using appropriate sunscreens for different skin types. There are a beaucoup of skincare lotions and products on the market that aid in protection from the sun. To find out more about the best skincare products see magazine titles such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Health and Women’s Health.
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