What is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is characterized by any malignant growth on the skin. There are three main types of skin cancers which include melanoma, basal cell cancer and squamos cell cancer. Since the tumours are most likely to develop on the epidermis or the outermost layer of the skin, detecting the cancerous growth is fairly easy. Skin cancer is very prevalent and is the most common diagnosed cancer. However, it has a lower incidence of death because of the likelihood that it will be caught in the early stages. Melanoma is the worst form of skin cancer but is less common than the two other forms of the disease. In many cases of the disease the cancer does not necessarily spread very quickly or at all.
What causes Skin Cancer
There are many known causes of skin cancer. The most common cause is over exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays or sunlight. A few others include the following:
- Having any deficiency of the immune system, that is having a condition that predisposes you to lowered immune system function, will increase the risk of developing skin cancer. This decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system may also be as a result of taking drugs to combat an autoimmune disease or after going through an organ transplant. These drugs will be used to lower the immune system response in the case of autoimmune diseases that induce the immune system to attack its own cells and organs.
- Being exposed to abnormally high levels of X-rays may contribute to the development of skin cancer.
- Using tanning booths to acquire an artificial tan has been widely accepted as a substantial cause of the disease.
- There are some chemicals that have been found to promote the development of skin cancers. These may include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and arsenic. It is said that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may be inhaled by low levels of contamination in the air, consumed in foods and by touching anything that is contaminated with the chemical.
- Some people are said to be at an elevated risk, these include lighter skinned people, people with blond or red hair and green or blue eyes. Having freckles or being easily sun burned may increase a person’s risk for developing the disease also.
- Having a genetic disorder that causes no development of pigment can heighten the risk for the disease. These include albinism and xeroderma pigmentosum.
- If an individual has already had skin cancer the risk is increased.
- If you had at least one very severe case of sunburn in childhood the risk for developing the cancer is higher.
- Having a family history of the disease is a well established risk factor.
- If you have multiple moles these can develop into cancerous growths on the skin also. Some persons opt to have moles removed to lower the chance that they will develop into cancerous tumours.