With the first spell of hot weather finally here, we’re spending more time outdoors soaking up the sunshine. But without proper protection sun exposure carries the risk of skin cancer. The most common of all cancers, skin cancer accounts for about half of U.S. cancer cases, according to the American Cancer Society. Every year, more than 3.5 million new cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer and more than 76,000 new cases of potentially-deadly melanoma are diagnosed in America.
Most basal and squamous cell skin cancers are caused by sun exposure and are most likely to develop on the face, ears, neck, lips or backs of the hands, the areas of the bodies most frequently exposed to the sun. These cancers begin in the basal and squamous cells — from which they get their name — that form the base of the skin’s outer layer. Discovered and treated early, basal and squamous cell cancers are highly treatable, offering an excellent prognosis for complete recovery. However, if ignored and untreated, these cancers can spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma skin cancer is the most serious form of skin cancer, killing an average 10,000 Americans each year. Melanoma occurs in the skin’s deeper layers and targets the melanocyte cells that produce skin pigment, or melanin. Melanin is the skin’s natural protectant from sun exposure. Caught early, recovery from this invasive form of skin cancer is quite good. The 5-year survival rate is 91% for melanoma victims. However, melanoma often goes undetected in its early stages and can be an aggressive spreader.
To be continued