What you need to know about skin cancer
Thinking about getting a summer tan – not so fast.
Exposure to UV radiation is one of the leading risk factors for skin cancer, especially if a person has fairer skin. This summer people can start improving their skin care regimen by becoming proactive about protecting themselves from skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. While melanoma is the most dangerous, affecting 73,000 people in the U.S., basal and squamous skin cancer affects almost 3.5 million people.
“Melanoma is much more likely than other skin cancers to spread to other parts of the body,” says Dr. Ajay Maker, surgical oncologist and director of surgical oncology at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “However, when found in its early stages, some types of melanoma are curable.”
There are three common types of skin cancer: basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. Each type of skin cancer is named after the skin cells they affect.
Melanoma affects melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin. This protects a person’s skin and gives it color.
While the majority of a person’s beauty marks and moles are most likely to be benign, or normal, a person still needs to keep an eye on his or her skin and be consciousness about any changes or abnormalities.
“Along with sunscreen and usual skin care, I suggest people examine their skin on their entire body at least once a month,” Dr. Maker says.
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.