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What Are The Causes And Effects Of Skin Cancer

Jun 6, 2008
Like all cancers, skin cancer is caused when the cells are exposed to some external environmental condition. This causes the cells, or more specifically the genes in the cell to mutate and become known as a oncogene. An oncogene promotes tumor growth.

In many cases of cancer it is not always clear what the environmental condition or conditions may be. In fact, it may not be just one condition that promotes cancer growth but a multitude of them making it harder to prevent the development of the disease. In the case of skin cancer, the environmental condition is thought to be exposure to ultraviolet radiation. And the most common source of ultraviolet radiation that most people are exposed to is sunlight.

However, some people can be exposed to sunlight more than others and never appear to develop skin cancers. It seems that some people are more sensitive to the ultraviolet radiation than others (although too much exposure to the sun will result in skin cancer for most people eventually). This is true and is based on the amount of melanin in the body. Melanin is the body's natural defense against the sun. It turns the skin brown as a way prevent it from burning. This is the tan that many people cultivate.

People with pale skin, fair or red hair and light colored eyes have less melanin than people with darker complexions. They are more sensitive to the sun. Their skin will most likely burn than go grown in the sun. Sunburned skin is painful but it is also an indication that your skin has been exposed to too much UV rays. Prolonged exposure to the sun or constant sunburn will facilitate the development of skin cancer.

Even if you do not have a fair complexion, you may still be susceptible to developing skin cancer if your family has a history of developing the disease.

The effects of skin cancer can vary. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It will often look like a mark on the skin that could be brown or red. It may be raised from the skin or flat to begin with. It generally doesn't spread and is considered to be a benign cancer. It can appear anywhere on the body but mainly on areas that are directly exposed to the sunlight.

Squamous cell carcinoma is also found on parts of the body that come into contact with sunlight. This form of skin cancer is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma but it generally only spreads to the surrounding skin cells. Often the blemish or mark will look brown or red. This mark will get bigger over time as more cells become cancerous. It can also become scaly and develop scabs.

Melanoma are the third type of skin cancer. They are the most serious and rarest form of skin cancer. They can appear anywhere on the body and are not uncommon in parts of the body that are not normally exposed to the sun, like the feet. They could take the form of a brown spot that gets larger or simply a lump under the skin.

Melanoma is the most likely form of skin cancer to turn malignant. It can grow at a rapid and uncontrollable rate throughout the body. It can grow through tissue and organs. It can get so large that it affects many of the functions in the body.

If melanoma spreads throughout the body it can be very hard to treat.

Limiting your exposure to sunlight and other forms of ultraviolet radiation is the best preventative care you can take. Getting your skin checked out from time to time by your doctor is also a good idea. This is especially good advice if you notice any new or unusual moles or spots on your skin. Or if these lesions appear to have changed in any way.
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