The Skin Cancer Facts
Skin Cancer Looks Like
CDC Melamona Facts through 2009
- 61,646 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 35,436 men and 26,210 women
- 9,199 people in the United States died from melanomas of the skin, including 5,992 men and 3,207 women
Three types of Malignant Skin Cancer
Knowing the skin cancer facts can save your life. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Below are three most common types of skin cancer, each with unique characteristics:
- Basal cell cancer: Translucency is a keyword for this type as it often has a translucent to flesh type color, and it is the most treatable type of skin cancer. It is usually a raised bump and may have tiny visible blood vessels. They tend to form on the most common places of sun exposed skin, like the face, neck, arms, shoulders and head. Many people mistake it for a sore that just won't heal. This type affects two million Americans a year. Most of the time it can be removed without even leaving a scar.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: This type presents as a crusted red or scaly patch or bump which is a very rapid growing tumor and pain is a common characteristic. Bleeding and ulcerations may occur and others may form a hard nodule. If left untreated it may form a large mass, however, it is treatable and not as serious as a melanoma.
- Melanoma carcinoma: This is the most serious skin cancer. Its appearance is asymmetrical having an irregular border. The color (but usually brown to black) may vary and it is often greater than 6 mm in diameter. However, some are red, pink or fleshy colored and are referred to as amelanotic melanomas. They are more aggressive and may appear to be an atypical mole. If caught early it is treatable but while it is not the most common skin cancer, it causes more deaths. Sometimes is may appear on your head in your hair or maybe on the back of your thigh, so it is not always caught early. Seeing a dermatologist for any unusual skin disease is essential. In 2010, the American Cancer Society reports about 68,130 of melanomas were invasive, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.
Melanoma Carcinoma - Images of Skin Cancer
Stages of Melanoma
- Stage 1: The melanoma is fairly thin and appears to be localized in the skin, which means it has not spread to lymph nodes or organs.
- Stage 2: It is thicker than Stage 1, but localized in the skin and not found in the organs or lymph nodes.
- Stage 3: The melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes near the affected area but has not spread to the organs.
- Stage 4: The melanoma has spread to lymph nodes and organs, such as the lungs or liver.
This most serious form of cancer is treatable when caught early but it can advance to other parts of the body where it can be very difficult to treat. It originates in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the pigment melanin which colors your skin, hair and eyes.
Until a year ago the doctors only had two drugs approved for stage IV metastic melanoma. The FDA has approved a new drug for treatment of inoperable or advanced melanoma called Zelboraf, which has been found to delay the disease progression and extend the life of the patient significantly. This is the first drug of its kind.
This year, an estimated 2,570 adults (1,270 men and 1,300 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary Intraocular Melanoma. It is estimated that 240 deaths (130 men and 110 women) from this disease will occur. This disease begins in the tissues of the eye, in the middle of the three layers of the eye. While this is a rare cancer, it is the most common eye cancer in adults.
Age and sun exposure may increase the risk of developing this cancer. Risk factor incvlude:
- Older age
- Being white
- Having a light skin, or green or blue eyes.
- Being able to tan
Obviously these are not things that we can change. Research has proven the usefulness of using protective sun screen, wearing hats and wearing sunglasses to reduce your risk of cancer,
There may not be any early symptoms but will often this cancer may be found in an eye exam. Symptoms you should pay attention to are a dark spot on your iris, blurred vision, a change in the shape of your pupil or a change in your vision.
The prognosis is good is the small tumors have not spread, then they can be cured and your vision will be saved. Optometrist use a staging process to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, as it may spread through the lymph system, through tissue or through the blood. This cancer may re-occur after it has been treated. Treatments vary according to the degree of the cancer, which may vary from minor surgery, radiation to enucleation.
Study: New drugs boost melanoma survival
Sunscreen in a Pill
Researchers are using the ingredient in Australia's Great Barrier Reef to uncover the genetic and biochemical processes behind the coral's natural defense against the sun's harmful rays. The King's College London team will first create a lotion, then a pill with hope that the pill will be available in 5 years.
Prevention is the Key
- Seek shade, particularly between 10 Am and 4 PM.
- Liberally use sun screen that protects you against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every 2 hours.
- Do Not Burn!
- Avoid tanning booths and beds.
- Use a broad brimmed hat. and sunglasses.
- Keep newborns out of the sun.
- Examine you skin for your head to your toes at least monthly and see a dermatologist for any new growth or discoloration.
Knowing the skin cancer facts can prevent skin cancer which is very treatable when caught early and knowledge is power. Being aware of the skin cancer signs is very important. Again prevention is the most important aspect as skin cancer is very common, particularly basal cell cancer. Follow the steps of prevention to remain free of the disease.
© 2011 Pamela Oglesby
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