Summer is upon us, and with the sun hanging in the sky, spending time outside is the ideal way to spend the day. However, there are dangers that come with staying out in the sun for too long. Many people are suffering from skin cancer, and they’re all trying to speak out to others about what happens when we venture outside, ill prepared for the sun. In this article, we will be talking about the three different kinds of skin cancer that one can get.
You may not have even realized that there are three different types of skin cancer. After all, they’re all in your skin. But, the main differences between these three dangerous conditions are 1) exactly how dangerous they are, and 2) what kinds of cells they affect in your body. While all three of them can originate in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), they all spread in different ways. That may be one of the reasons that skin cancer is often so inaccurately spotted. The good news is that while skin cancer can be deadly, treatments are getting more and more advanced. So, let’s take a look at the three types of skin cancer, and what to look out for with each of them.
Basal Cell Carcinoma : The Most Common Form Of Skin Cancer
While basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is fairly common (there are more than 4 million cases in the United States alone annually), it can also be pretty hard to catch. Unfortunately, BCC can show itself in many different forms, making it easy to miss or overlook, even in dermatological examinations. Luckily, BCC only very rarely metastasizes (spreads into the body). But, if not removed promptly, it can cause disfigurement. Look out for red patches of skin, pink or red growths, shiny bumps, unusual scars, or open sores. All of these may be basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The Sunspot Skin Cancer
Of course, all forms of skin cancer have to do with sun exposure. But, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) forms on the top layer of skin, which is where damage occurs from UVB rays. Somewhat more recognizable than BCC, SCC usually shows up as scaly patches of skin, or elevated growths and warts that occasionally bleed. While fewer people tend to have SCC than BCC (there are usually about 1 million cases of SCC in the United States annually), several thousand people actually die from squamous cell carcinoma each year. So, if you do notice something unusual, be sure to check it out, especially if you see something on an area of skin that is frequently exposed to the sun. And, if you have premature signs of aging, you should be extra vigilant.
Melanoma: The Deadliest Skin Cancer
All forms of skin cancer can be dangerous. But, melanoma is the most widely-known type of skin cancer, because more people die from it. Melanoma happens when damage – often from the sun – occurs in skin cell DNA and causes mutations and rapid, malignant growth. And, the reason melanoma is so dangerous is because these malignant growths – tumors – do often metastasize to other parts of the body. However, if you do get an early diagnosis, it’s almost always treatable. Unfortunately, many people do not catch this disease early, and tens of thousands of people die every year from melanoma growths. Keep an eye out for asymetrical moles, or moles with irregular borders, varying colors, or rapid changes in size. All of these could be signs of melanoma.
Skin cancer can be a frightening diagnosis and experience. But, for many people, it can be avoidable. Be sure to watch your skin for any of the signs we listed above. And, be diligent about putting on sunblock every day. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of the damage your skin takes from the sun doesn’t come from nasty sunburns, but from daily cumulative exposure. So, if you’re going to be outside, you need to wear sunscreen. It could save your life.