Skin Cancer

Science
Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer
Each year more than 600,000 people learn that they have some form of skin cancer. (National Cancer Institute [NCI] , 1993) Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States.(NCI, 1993) It is estimated that 40 to 50 percent of Americans that live to the age of 65 will have skin cancer at least once.(NCI, 1993) One-third of all new diagnosed cancers are skin cancer. (Siegel, 1990, p.77) Skin cancer is now almost 100 percent curable if detected early and treated properly. (NCI, 1993)

Healthy cell in the body\'s tissues grow, divide, and replace themselves in a orderly way. (NCI, 1993) Sometimes normal cells lose their ability to limit their growth; too much tissue is formed and a tumor begins to form. (NCI, 1993) Tumors can be either benign or malignant. (NCI, 1993) Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body and are seldom deadly. (NCI, 1993) Malignant tumors invade and destroy nearby healthy tissues and organs.(NCI, 1993) Cancerous cells for malignant tumors can spread to other parts of the body by way of blood vessels and the lymph nodes. (Microsoft Encarta, 1995)

Skin Cancer has one known and easily avoidable risk factor: exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. (Reid, K. & Vikhanski, L, Medical World News, 1992) People with the highest risk of getting skin cancer are those that have fair skin and sunburn easily.(Siegel, 1990. p 78) The risk of developing skin cancer is also effected by where a person lives. People living closer to the equator ands people living in high altitudes have a increased risk of developing skin cancer. (Siegel, 1990, p 78) Exposure to artificial sources of UV radiation can increase a person\'s risk.(NCI, 1993) It is also a good idea to try to avoid prolonged exposure to the midday sun. (NCI, 1993)

80 percent of skin cancers occur on the face, head or neck of the person; another 10 percent occur on other exposed areas of the body. (Siegel, 1990, p 80) Men\'s shoulders, backs, and chests and women\'s lower legs have become more common sites of skin cancer in recent years. (Siegel, 1990, p 80) In the United States, people are more likely to develop skin cancer on their left arm and face; this is because people sit on the left side of their car when they are driving. (Siegel, 1990, p. 80)

The epidermis consist of several different types and layers of cells. (Siegel, 1990, p 76) The bottom row of cells is composed of basal cells; the middle layer consist of squamous cells and Melanocytes are interspersed between them. (Siegel, 1990, p 77) The three kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of all cancers, including skin cancer. (Siegel, 1990, p. 86) Basal cell is a slow growing cancer that seldom spreads to other parts of the body. (NCI, 1993) Basal cell carcinoma is found most often on people with white skin, particularly of north European descent. (Siegel, 1990, p 86) Basal cell carcinoma if left untreated can badly damage and destroy underlying structures and tissues. (Siegel, 1990, p86) Basal cell carcinoma usually begins on areas of the body exposed to the sun. (Siegel, 1990, p 86) Their are a number of warning signs for Basal cell carcinoma. Appearance of the cancer can usually be seen, as well as felt. (Siegel, 1990, p 87) The growth may have pearly or shiny edges with a reddish or purplish color to it. (Siegel, 1990, p 87) In dark skinned people, the bump may appear to look like a mole. (Siegel, 1990, p 87) Another sign of Basal cell carcinoma is an open sore that does not heal and/or begins to bleed, ooze, or crust. (Siegel 1990 p 87) Sometimes a reddish patch or irritated area may persist, itch, hurt, or crust. (Siegel, 1990, p 87) Basal cell carcinoma has many variations in size, color, and shape; thus making it very difficult for a nonphysician to do a self-diagnose. (Siegel, 1990, p.87)

The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma; which effect around 100,000 people or 20 percent of all skin cancers. (Reid, K. & Vikhanski, L, Medical World News, 1992) Squamous cell carcinoma not