Risk Factors And Causes Of Skin Cancer
Despite the fact that high melanin content confers better photo protection, significant photo damage in the form of epidermal atypia and atrophy, dermal collagen and elastin damage and pigmentary disorders can cause skin cancer which could be fatal due to delay in detection in skin of color . Skin cancer is skin growth with varying degrees of malignancy . It is not yet very clear why skin cancer incidence has grown so dramatically over the past decades but the reason is likely to be multi factorial which includes increased UV exposure, environmental, hereditary risk factors and improved surveillance and earlier recognition . In addition, genetic polymorphisms also modulate the susceptibility to skin cancer .
Organ transplant receivers especially kidney and HIV patients have an increased frequency of skin cancers . Some treatments, including radiation therapy, phototherapy, psoralen and long-wave ultraviolet radiation can also predispose to skin malignancies . Viral infections such as the human papilloma virus can cause cancer. Patients with familial genetic patterns are vulnerable to particular types of skin cancers . Certain drugs, from common antibiotics to heart medications, can increase the skins sensitivity to sunlight, causing the skin to burn in less time and may increase the incidence of skin cancer .
What Areas Of The Body Are Most Prone To Skin Cancer
Statistics from The Skin Cancer Foundation cite that two people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. Indeed, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer globally and roughly one in five Americans will develop it. Its important to educate yourself and take preventative measures against sunburn and the resulting development of this cancer. While skin cancer can show up anywhere, heres where it most commonly appears on the body.
Where Does Your City Fall On The List
Additional reporting by Jackie FrereMethodology:Percentage of people with cancer percentage of people who currently smoke or have ever smoked percentage of people who are overweight or obese percentage of people not meeting strength or aerobic activity guidelines percentage of people with little to no leisure time activity percentage of people who eat less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day percentage of people who report binge drinking, defined as having 5 or more drinks on one occasion for males, 4 or more for women percentage of the population between the ages of 55 and 74 percentage of people with inflammatory diseases Jennifer Messimer
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Where Skin Cancer Is Most Often Found
Skin cancer can truly occur anywhere on the body, but because it typically develops due to UV light exposure, its often found in areas most exposed to sunlight. The face, especially the nose and cheeks, are common sites of skin cancer. Ears, scalp, shoulders, arms, and hands are also commonly exposed areas.
For those who live in warmer climates or wear shorts or swimsuits frequently, the torso and back, as well as the legs, can be common sites of skin cancer.
It only takes one blistering sunburn over a lifetime to develop skin cancer later. This blistering sunburn might even occur during childhood, so protecting babies and kids from the suns harmful UV rays is very important.
Reducing Your Skin Cancer Risk
You can take steps to reduce your risk of skin cancer from exposure to UV radiation.
Use a combination of the 5 sun protection measures during the daily sun protection times to reduce your risk, including:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
- Slop on SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply it every 2 hours . Never use sunscreen on its own or to extend the time you spend in the sun.
- Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that protects the face, head, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on wrap-around sunglasses. Make sure they meet Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1067. Optometry Australia recommends using eye protection all year.
UV levels are most intense during the middle of the day.
SunSmart and the Bureau of Meteorology issue daily sun protection times whenever UV index levels are 3 or higher. This is available as a free SunSmart app, or online at SunSmart, in the weather section of newspapers, or as a free website widget.
Winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding also pose a high risk of skin damage and sunburn. UV radiation is more intense at high altitude than at sea level. This is because the air is clearer and there is less atmosphere to absorb harmful UV rays. Read more about sun protection at the snow.
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Are Some People More Likely To Get Skin Damage From The Sun
Everyones skin and eyes can be affected by the sun and other forms of ultraviolet rays. People with light skin are much more likely to have their skin damaged by UV rays , but darker-skinned people, including people of any ethnicity, can also be affected.
For some people, the skin tans when it absorbs UV rays. The tan is caused by an increase in the activity and number of melanocytes, which are the cells that make a brown pigment called melanin. Melanin helps block out damaging UV rays up to a point, which is why people with naturally darker skin are less likely to get sunburned, while people with lighter skin are more likely to burn. Sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. But UV exposure can raise skin cancer risk even without causing sunburn.
Aside from skin tone, other factors can also affect your risk of damage from UV light. You need to be especially careful in the sun if you:
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you are taking any medicines that could increase your sensitivity to sunlight.
No matter how sensitive your skin is to the sun, its important to know how to protect yourself from UV rays.
Determining If The Cancer Has Spread
As part of your diagnosis, your doctor will also determine what stage the cancer is in. The different stages refer to whether and how far the cancer has spread in your body, on a Roman numeral scale of I to IV. A stage I cancer is small and contained to the body part where it originated, whereas a stage IV cancer has spread aggressively to other parts of the body.
Depending on the type of skin cancer that a person has, it may be more or less likely that it has spread through the body. For instance, basal cell skin cancer rarely spreads beyond the skin where it starts. However, melanomas and large squamous cell carcinomas are more likely to spread into other regions of the body. Cases of melanoma, in particular, may call for further tests to determine the specific stage theyre in.
Your doctor may evaluate multiple factors in order to stage the cancer. Using biopsies and imaging tests, your doctor may take a look at:
The size and thickness of the tumor, and whether it has grown into surrounding tissues
Nearby lymph nodes, to check for signs of cancer spread
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What Are Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
Aside from exposure to UV light , the following are possible risk factors for skin cancer:
Heredity. People with a family history of skin cancer are generally at a higher risk of developing the disease. People with fair skin and a northern European heritage appear to be most susceptible.
Multiple nevi or atypical moles
Exposure to coal and arsenic compounds
Elevation. Ultraviolet light is stronger as elevation increases .
Latitude. The rays of the sun are strongest near the equator.
Repeated exposure to X-rays
Scars from disease and burns
Immune suppression, such as in people who have had organ transplants
Prior history of skin cancer
Certain rare inherited conditions, such as basal cell nevus syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum
Dermatology Care at Sibley
The team from Johns Hopkins Dermatology at Sibley Memorial Hospital consists of highly specialized dermatologists who provide expert treatments in cosmetic, medical, and pediatric dermatology.
Are Some People More Likely To Get Acne
Nearly everyone develops at least a few breakouts during the teenage years. Its impossible to predict who will develop more severe acne, but you have a higher risk if one or both of your parents had severe acne that left them with acne scars.
The good news is that you dont have to live with acne. Today, virtually every case of acne can be treated successfully. Sometimes, this requires the help of a board-certified dermatologist.
Youll find out how dermatologists treat acne at: Acne: Diagnosis and treatment
ReferencesBurgos A, Burch JM. Acne and acneiform eruptions. In: Fitzpatrick JE, et al. Dermatology Secrets Plus . Elsevier. China, 2016:185-6.
Capitanio B, Sinagra JL, et al. Underestimated clinical features of postadolescent acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 63:782-8.
Heymann WR. Stress2 + Hormones2 = Acne2. Dermatology World: Insights and Inquires. June 5, 2019. Last accessed June 14, 2019.
Thiboutot DM, Dréno B, et al. Practical management of acne for clinicians: An international consensus from the Global Alliance to Improve Outcomes in Acne. J Am Acad Dermatol 2018 78:S1-23.
Zaenglein AL, Graber EM, et al. Acne vulgaris and acneiform eruptions. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008:690-703.
Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 74:945-73.
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Palms Foot Soles And Nail Beds
Though not as prone to skin cancer as the aforementioned areas, the palms of hands, soles of feet, and nail beds can also harbor melanoma, especially in those with darker skin. In fact, approximately half of all melanoma cases in African Americans occur in one of these areas.
Simply put, the parts of your body that are most frequently exposed to sunlight or UV radiation more broadly are those that are most at risk for skin cancer development. And in most people, these areas happen to be the face, scalp, neck, hands, legs, chest, back, and for some, palms, soles, and nail beds. Regardless, skin cancer can show up anywhere, which is why its crucial to keep an eye on your skin, know the warning signs so you can detect a problem early on, and receive an annual skin cancer screening from a professional dermatologist. Additionally, take steps toward skin cancer prevention each and every day by wearing sunscreen , covering up with loose clothing when outdoors, seeking shade, avoiding tanning booths, and more.
The experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can give you more information on skin cancer and sun safety as well as set you up for a seasonal skin cancer screening. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.
Prognosis For Skin Cancer
It is not possible for a doctor to predict the exact course of a disease. However, your doctor may give you the likely outcome of the disease. If detected early, most skin cancers are successfully treated.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers do not pose a serious risk to your health but a cancer diagnosis can be a shock. If you want to talk to someone see your doctor. You can also call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
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Safeguard Against Skin Cancer Every Day
Understanding your skin type is a vital step in safeguarding against skin cancer, but remember that skin type is not your only risk factor. To avoid premature aging and skin damage that can progress to cancer, use broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and practice sun-safe habits, such as seeking shade and wearing sun-protective clothing, hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Having A Weakened Immune System
A persons immune system helps fight cancers of the skin and other organs. People with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop many types of skin cancer, including melanoma.
For example, people who get organ transplants are usually given medicines that weaken their immune system to help prevent them from rejecting the new organ. This increases their risk of melanoma.
People infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, often have weakened immune systems and are also at increased risk for melanoma.
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What Are Some Of The Lesser
Some of the less common skin cancers include the following:
Kaposi sarcoma is a rare cancer most commonly seen in people who have weakened immune systems, those who have human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS and people who are taking immunosuppressant medications who have undergone organ or bone marrow transplant.
Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma are:
- Blue, black, pink, red or purple flat or bumpy blotches or patches on your arms, legs and face. Lesions might also appear in your mouth, nose and throat.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that begins at the base of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. This cancer starts in Merkel cells, which share of the features of nerve cells and hormone-making cells and are very close to the nerve ending in your skin. Merkel cell cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than squamous or basal cell skin cancer.
Signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are:
- A small reddish or purplish bump or lump on sun-exposed areas of skin.
- Lumps are fast-growing and sometimes open up as ulcers or sores.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma
Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer that usually appears on your eyelid. This cancer tends to develop around your eyes because theres a large number of sebaceous glands in that area.
Signs and symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma are:
- A painless, round, firm, bump or lump on or slightly inside your upper or lower eyelid.
Skin Type And Skin Cancer
People with fair skin are at higher risk of developing skin cancer than people with very dark skin. If you have fair skin, be sure to teach your children about the importance of sun protection. Encourage them to develop good sun protection habits from an early age. This is the best way to help reduce their risk of skin damage and skin cancer in later life.
The melanin in very dark skin offers some protection against the damaging effects of UV radiation and the risk of skin cancer is lower. But when skin cancer is detected in people with naturally very dark skin, it is often found at a later, more dangerous stage when the risk of death is much higher.
No matter what their skin type, everyone should become familiar with their skin. Check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas. If you notice anything unusual, including any change in shape, colour or size of a spot, or the development of a new spot, visit your doctor immediately.
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What Changes In The Skin Occur Due To Exposure To The Sun
Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces. People think a glowing complexion means good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun can actually speed up the effects of aging and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily in addition to taking longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it will definitely show later in life. The sun can also cause issues for your eyes, eyelids, and the skin around the eyes.
Changes in the skin related to sun exposure:
- Precancerous and cancerous skin lesions caused by loss of the skin’s immune function.
- Benign tumors.
- Fine and coarse wrinkles.
- Freckles discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation and sallowness, yellow discoloration of the skin.
- Telangiectasias, the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin.
- Elastosis, the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles.
Diagnosis Of Skin Cancer
It is important to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.
In the majority of cases, your GP will examine you, paying attention to any spots that may look suspicious. Your GP may perform a biopsy . In some cases your GP may refer you to a specialist, such as a dermatologist, if necessary.
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Family History Of Melanoma
Your risk of melanoma is higher if one or more of your first-degree relatives has had melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.
The increased risk might be because of a shared family lifestyle of frequent sun exposure, a family tendency to have fair skin, certain gene changes that run in a family, or a combination of these factors.
Most experts dont recommend that people with a family history of melanoma have genetic testing to look for mutations that might increase risk, as its not yet clear how helpful this is. Rather, experts advise that they do the following:
- Have regular skin exams by a dermatologist
- Thoroughly examine their own skin once a month
- Be particularly careful about sun protection and avoiding manmade UV rays
Women Are More At Risk
Global studies have found that about 50% to 61% of women and 30% to 44% of men have experienced sensitive skin. One theory for why women are more prone to skin sensitivity is differences in skin thickness. Women may also be more at risk for dehydration and dry skin due to hormonal changes. These theories still require further research.