Catch skin cancer early –it’s treatable
The American Academy of Dermatology and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have designated May as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, with over one million people diagnosed each year.
More than 90 percent of skin cancer is caused by excessive exposure to the sun. Each hour, one person dies from skin cancer.
Unprotected exposure to the sun’s UV rays is the culprit of most cases of skin cancer. Genetics can also play a role in skin cancer development.
Recent studies have linked indoor tanning bed use to melanoma, reinforcing the declaration by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that indoor tanning devices are carcinogenic to humans.
Tanning beds are currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Class I medical devices, in the same safety category as elastic bandages and tongue depressors. But UV radiation from either the sun or tanning machines is a proven cancer-causing agent, and the chief cause of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is divided into two categories: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer. Although serious, non-melanomas are much less life threatening and easier to treat.
Skin cancer and melanoma account for about 50 percent of all types of cancers diagnosed combined and is also one of the more preventable types of cancer.
Melanoma accounts for 4 percent of skin cancer cases diagnosed. It is estimated that 62,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2006. Almost 8,000 are expected to die of melanoma this year.
It is recommended that each person examine their skin monthly for skin abnormalities. It is also recommended that people have a clinical skin exam every year by a health care professional.
Symptoms of skin cancer include a small lump, spot or mole that is shiny, waxy, pale in color, and smooth in texture. Also look for sores that don’t heal and any new growth that is suspicious-looking.
If you suspect that a lump, spot or mole may be suspicious, see your doctor. When detected early, it is highly treatable.
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