Skin Cancer – Understanding the Basics

The most basic definition of skin cancer is that it is an abnormal growth of cells on the skin. This occurs most commonly on skin that has been exposed to the sun although it is possible for skin cancer to form on skin that rarely, if ever, sees sunlight. Medical professionals divide skin cancer into one of three different types. There is melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. An individual can greatly reduce their risk of developing skin cancer if they limit the amount of exposure that their skin has to ultraviolet, or UV, radiation.

The most common parts of the body were skin cancer develops is the scalp, chest, lips, ears, face, legs and hands. It is possible for a person to develop skin cancer on their genitals, palms, between the toes and the need the fingernails. Individuals of every skin type and tone are at risk for developing skin cancer if they are exposed to UV radiation for extended periods of time. For individuals with dark skin, melanoma often occurs in areas that rarely are exposed to the sun and ultraviolet radiation. Being able to recognize the signs of skin cancer will allow a person to receive from treatment.

The signs and symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma are a red nodule that is firm or a lesion that is flat with a surface that is crusted or scaly. The most common signs of basal cell carcinoma are a lesion that is scar like and either brown or flesh colored or a bump that is waxy or pearly. Both of these types of cancers occur most commonly on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to the sun. The symptoms of melanoma are a mole that changes in size, color or feel, dark lesions on a person’s fingertips, palms, soles, nose, vagina or anus. The most common places for melanoma to occur are on a person’s torso, head or neck.

Certain individuals may be at a greater risk for developing skin cancer. Although anyone can get skin cancer, individuals with fair skin are much more likely to develop that than those with darker skin. A person that has a history of sunburns or who spends a great deal of time allowing the skin to be exposed to the sun will also be at a greater risk for developing one of these types of cancers. Likewise, an individual who has moles that are abnormal should consider having them regularly monitored by physician.

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