Skin Cancer: Not Just A Summer Thing

Skin Cancer: Not Just A Summer Thing

Summer is ending and with it those long, lazy weekend days at the beach or, pool, getting in some extra hours of cycling, running, and walking, or just hanging out on a lawn chair with friends and some cold drinks.  The sun is strong and hot and oh so relaxing. It’s just the thing you need to unwind from the work week. It’s so comforting in fact that most of us forget that in those rays lurks serious danger, even death. Haven’t figured out where we’re going with this yet?  Skin cancer!  And don’t think it’s something you only have to worry about in the summer. The sun is with us 365 days a year, and even though the weather may be cold in your part of the country, wherever the sun shines, skin cancer is a risk.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are three main types of skin cancer, all with somewhat similar sets of symptoms. And skin cancer, or more accurately cancers, can happen to anyone, at any age, and of any skin color.

Some 2.8 million Americans a year are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma or BCC, the most common form of skin cancer. So called because it occurs in the basal cells of the skin – the inner part of the skin’s outer layer (epidermis), BCC often looks like a sore that doesn’t heal, a patch of pink or red, or a shiny bump.  Though it rarely spreads beyond the original tumor site, and therefore is rarely life-threatening, BCC can be disfiguring if left untreated. The most frequent cause is the sun’s UV (ultra-violet) radiation, and what you need to know is that you are at risk whether you routinely spend time baking in the sun or you just subject yourself to infrequent intense bursts.

In addition to basal cells, the skin’s epidermis has many layers of squamous cells, and these can be the location of squamous cell carcinoma or SCC.  Like BCC, their initial symptoms can be a sore that doesn’t heal, a patch of pink or red, or a shiny bump, that’s where the similarity ends.

Caused mainly by cumulative, as opposed to short-term exposure to the sun’s UV radiation, if left untreated SCC can be disfiguring and can even kill you if it spreads to other organs (yes the skin is an organ). The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 700,000 people are diagnosed with SCC each year, and of those some 2,500 cases result in death. What’s more, although they occur mostly on areas of the body that get frequent sun exposure (arms, legs, face, ears, lips, torso, feet), they can crop up in the mucous membranes and the genitals.

Of the three most common forms of skin cancer melanoma is the most dangerous. Melanoma develops when skin- cell mutations (defects in a cell’s genetic material) are generated by damaged DNA – damage such as that caused by UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. The result is rapid and uncontrolled growth in the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles, and some even develop from moles. Their color ranges from black or brown (the majority) to pretty much anything –  skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Again, UV radiation is the cause, and those with a family history are at higher risk. Caught and treated early on, it’s usually curable, but note that the US death rate from Melanoma is nearly 10,000 per year.

Obviously the best way to treat skin cancer is to prevent it.  Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Guide for helpful tips. Your life may depend on it.




Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

We Have No Choice But Beating Trump On Election Day -- And We Surely Can

Former President Donald Trump

Photo by Sam Wolfe/Reuters

Well, the big news is that after a couple of days of even more expert analysis, nothing’s going to save us. Certainly not the Supreme Court. They’re in the tank for Donald Trump, full stop. It doesn’t matter which way they will eventually rule on his claim of absolute immunity, hell, it doesn’t even matter whether they’ll rule at all. They’re going to toss the 14th Amendment’s insurrectionist ban in the garbage, and then they’re going to dilly dally until presidential immunity is a moot point.

Keep reading...Show less
Gun Violence

A bill that will allow Louisiana residents to carry a concealed firearm without a permit is headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Jeff Landry. The bill would also remove current requirements for new gun owners to have their fingerprints taken and attend a training course on firearm safety. Landry has already indicated he intends to sign this bill into law.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ }}