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Why Do You Get Skin Cancer

What Changes In The Skin Occur Due To Exposure To The Sun

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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.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Also known as BCC, this skin cancer tends to grow slowly and can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.

Common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma

This skin cancer often develops on the head or neck and looks like a shiny, raised, and round growth.

To help you spot BCC before it grows deep into your skin, dermatologists share these 7 warning signs that could be easily missed.

If you find any of the following signs on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist.

How Can You Help Prevent Skin Cancer

One of the simplest ways to protect yourself from skin cancer is to limit your exposure to harmful light. The AAD advises that you stay away from tanning beds and take necessary measures to protect yourself from sunlight.

Routine check-ups and self-awareness also play a significant role in prevention and detection. Try to look out for warning signs such as changes in size, shape, or color of a mole, the appearance of a new growth, or a sore that will not heal.

If you notice any of the above, be sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist to determine if there has been any development of cancer.

If cancer is found, it can often be treated with Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is a procedure that removes layers of cancerous skin in stages to prevent the unnecessary removal of healthy tissue. In some cases, skin grafts are used to restore the appearance of the skin.

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What Is Skin Cancer And Melanoma

Skin cancer is a disease that occurs when your skin cells grow abnormally, usually from too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

This uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells forms a tumour in the skin. Tumours are either benign , or malignant .

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer: each year, more than 13,000 Australians are diagnosed with a melanoma and almost 980,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are treated. Skin cancer is mostly preventable, and there are effective treatment options available.

Skin cancers are named according to the cells in which they form. There are 3 main types:

  • Basal cell carcinoma begins in the lower segment of cells of the epidermis your outer layer of skin. These tend to grow slowly, and rarely spread to other parts of the body.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma grows from the flat cells found in the top layer of your epidermis. SCC can grow quickly on the skin over several weeks or months. Bowens disease is an early form of SCC that hasnt grown beyond the top layer of skin.
  • Melanoma grows from cells called melanocytes cells that give your skin its colour. Melanoma is the rarest type of skin cancer but is considered the most serious because it can spread quickly throughout the body.

BCC and SCC are also called non-melanoma skin cancers. BCC represents more than 2 in 3 non-melanoma skin cancers, and around 1 in 3 are SCC. There are other types of non-melanoma skin cancers, but they are rare.

Different Kinds Of Skin Cancer

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There are many types of skin cancer. Some are very rare. Your doctor can tell you more about the type you have.

The two most common kinds of skin cancers are:

  • Basal cell cancer, which starts in the lowest layer of the skin
  • Squamous cell cancer, which starts in the top layer of the skin

Another kind of skin cancer is called melanoma. These cancers start from the color-making cells of the skin . You can read about melanoma in If You Have Melanoma Skin Cancer.

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Increased Rate Of Aging Of The Skin

Repeated exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation eventually causes skin damage similar to the aging process. Patches of skin become thin and less elastic, and develop blemishes, sun freckles, and wrinkles. These changes may take many years of exposure but when they occur, the damage is irreversible.

What Happens During A Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer screenings may be done by yourself, your primary care provider, or a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the skin.

If you are screening yourself, you will need to do a head-to-toe exam of your skin. The exam should be done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. You’ll also need a hand mirror to check areas that are hard to see. The exam should include the following steps:

  • Stand in front of the mirror and look at your face, neck, and stomach.
  • Women should look under their breasts.
  • Raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.
  • Look at the front and back of your forearms.
  • Look at your hands, including between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Look at the front, back, and sides of your legs.
  • Sit down and examine your feet, checking the soles and the spaces between the toes. Also check the nail beds of each toe.
  • Check your back, buttocks, and genitals with the hand mirror.
  • Part your hair and examine your scalp. Use a comb along with a hand mirror to help you see better. It may also help to use a blow dryer to move your hair as you look.

If you are getting screened by a dermatologist or other health care provider, it may include the follow steps:

The exam should take 10-15 minutes.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, typically a new mole, a new skin lesion or a change in an existing mole.

  • Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small, smooth, pearly, or waxy bump on the face, or neck, or as a flat, pink/red- or brown-colored lesion on the trunk, arms or legs.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a firm, red nodule, or as a rough, scaly, flat lesion that may itch, bleed and become crusty. Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers mainly occur on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, but can occur anywhere.
  • Melanoma usually appears as a pigmented patch or bump. It may resemble a normal mole, but usually has a more irregular appearance.

When looking for melanoma, think of the ABCDE rule that tells you the signs to watch for:

  • Asymmetry: The shape of one half doesn’t match the other.
  • Border: Edges are ragged or blurred.
  • Color: Uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue.
  • Diameter: A significant change in size .
  • Evolution: Changes in the way a mole or lesion looks or feels .

What Are The Risk Factors For Skin Cancer

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People burn or tan depending on their skin type, the time of year, and how long they are exposed to UV rays.

Anyone can get skin cancer, but people with certain characteristics are at greater risk

  • A lighter natural skin color.
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
  • Blue or green eyes.
  • Certain types and a large number of moles.
  • A family history of skin cancer.
  • A personal history of skin cancer.
  • Older age.

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What Will Happen After Treatment

Youll be glad when treatment is over. Your doctor will want you to check your skin at least once a month. It will be very important to protect yourself from getting too much sun.

For years after treatment ends, you will see your skin cancer doctor. At first, your visits may be every few months. Then, the longer youre cancer-free, the less often the visits are needed. Be sure to go to all of these follow-up visits. Your doctor will ask about symptoms and check you for signs of the cancer coming back or a new skin cancer. Other exams and tests may also be done.

Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be hard, but it can also be a time to look at your life in new ways. You might be thinking about how to improve your health. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or talk to your cancer care team to find out what you can do to feel better.

You cant change the fact that you have cancer. What you can change is how you live the rest of your life making healthy choices and feeling as good as you can.

Why Do You Get A Skin Cancer Check

30 years of SunSmart programs have helped to increase awareness of skin cancer in the community. But while most people realize that early detection is the safest thing, there is debate about whether to go to Skin Cancer Clinic Gold Coastwith routine intact skin.

Prevention services for breast, cervical, and bowel cancer suggest mammograms, stool tests, and Pap tests for individuals, although that was not the issue for Skin Cancer Checks.

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What Is Skin Cancer

Cancer can start any place in the body. Skin cancer starts when cells in the skin grow out of control.

Skin cancer cells can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, but this is not common. When cancer cells do this, its called metastasis. To doctors, the cancer cells in the new place look just like the ones from the skin.

Cancer is always named based on the place where it starts. So if skin cancer spreads to another part of the body, its still called skin cancer.

The skin

Ask your doctor to use this picture to show you where your cancer is

Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Survival Rates

scaly light brown spot on skin

Because basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are lower-risk skin cancers, theres little information on survival rates based on stage.

Both types of cancer have a very high cure rate. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for basal cell carcinoma is 100 percent. The five-year survival rate for squamous cell carcinoma is 95 percent.

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How Can I Tell If I Have Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer is actually one of the easiest cancers to find. Thats because skin cancer usually begins where you can see it.

You can get skin cancer anywhere on your skin from your scalp to the bottoms of your feet. Even if the area gets little sun, its possible for skin cancer to develop there.

You can also get skin cancer in places that may surprise you. Skin cancer can begin under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.

Questions To Ask The Doctor

  • Do you know the stage of the cancer?
  • If not, how and when will you find out the stage of the cancer?
  • Would you explain to me what the stage means in my case?
  • What will happen next?

There are many ways to treat skin cancer. The main types of treatment are:

  • Surgery
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Most basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured with surgery or other types of treatments that affect only the spot on the skin.

The treatment plan thats best for you will depend on:

  • The stage and grade of the cancer
  • The chance that a type of treatment will cure the cancer or help in some way
  • Your age and overall health
  • Your feelings about the treatment and the side effects that come with it

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Ways You Can Get Skin Cancer Besides Sunlight

The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung

3 Minute Read:

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, at least three million people are being affected by non-melanoma types of skin cancer every year.

People are always warned that sun exposure causes skin cancer, and true, the sun is responsible for more skin cancer cases than anything else. However, the sun is not the only way to experience a problem.

Skin cancer has many causes and many types, and so there are a few things to keep in mind.

Complementary And Alternative Treatments

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It’s common for people with cancer to seek out complementary or alternative treatments. When used alongside your conventional cancer treatment, some of these therapies can make you feel better and improve your quality of life. Others may not be so helpful and in some cases may be harmful. It is important to tell all your healthcare professionals about any complementary medicines you are taking. Never stop taking your conventional treatment without consulting your doctor first.All treatments can have side effects. These days, new treatments are available that can help to make many side effects much less severe than they were in the past.

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What Is The Uv Index

In order to address the growing concern by Canadians regarding changes in UVR resulting from ozone depletion, Environment Canada rates the UV intensity as UV Index on a scale of 0 to 11+ . It can go to the mid-teens at midday in the tropics. In Canada the UV Index is categorized into low , moderate , high , very high and extreme .

The human health effects and precautions relating to the UV Index are summarized in the following table.

Table 3
Very High
  • Extra precautions required – unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn quickly.
  • Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. and take full precautions – seek shade, cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
11+Extreme
  • Values of 11 or more are very rare in Canada. However, the UV Index can reach 14 or more in the tropics and southern U.S.
  • Take full precautions. Unprotected skin will be damaged and can burn in minutes. Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., cover up, wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • White sand and other bright surfaces reflect UV radiation and increase UV exposure.

Sun Protection Messages, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Global Solar UV Index: A Practical Guide. A joint recommendation of the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

Biological Therapies And Melanoma

Biological therapies are treatments using substances made naturally by the body. Some of these treatments are called immunotherapy because they help the immune system fight the cancer, or they occur naturally as part of the immune system. There are many biological therapies being researched and trialled, which in the future may help treat people with melanoma. They include monoclonal antibodies and vaccine therapy.

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What Causes Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers

While many risk factors for basal and squamous cell skin cancers have been found, its not always clear exactly how these factors might cause cancer.

Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are caused by repeated and unprotected skin exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, as well as from man-made sources such as tanning beds.

UV rays can damage the DNA inside skin cells. DNA is the chemical in each of our cells that makes up our genes, which control how our cells function. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than just how we look.

Some genes help control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die:

  • Genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes.
  • Genes that keep cell growth in check by slowing down cell division or causing cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.

Cancers can be caused by DNA changes that keep oncogenes turned on, or that turn off tumor suppressor genes. These types of gene changes can lead to cells growing out of control.

Researchers dont yet know all of the DNA changes that result in basal or squamous cell skin cancer, but they have found that in many skin cancers the cells have changes in tumor suppressor genes.

These are not the only gene changes that play a role in the development of skin cancer. There are many others as well.

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