Skin Cancer: Coming to a Face Near You
By John Woolf
There are over one million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the United States, representing about half of all cancers diagnosed in the country. And skin cancer on a dramatic increase. There are twice as many skin cancers in our population today as there were 20 years ago. Given this rate of increase, chances are about 50/50 that you will develop at least one skin cancer lesion if you live to age 70. This is especially true if you are fair-skinned. While skin cancer can occur in people of all races, those with lighter skin have a much higher risk because their skin contains less of the pigment melanin, which helps protect against an overdose of the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays, which can lead to skin cancer over time. The effect is apparently cumulative. A body of evidence also suggests that this also applies if you decide to go the "fake bake" route of the tanning salons.
Thankfully, most skin cancers, about 95 percent, are not life threatening. Skin cancer falls into two broad areas: basal-cell cancer / sqamous-cell cancer, and melanoma. The two most common of these cancers are the basal-cell and sqamous-cell carcinomas. These typically are easily treated, usually with surgery, and rarely lead to death. If neglected, however, over time, these can eventually lead to disfigurement and/or can spread with dire consequences. Only about 5 percent of all skin cancers are malignant melanomas, but these are far more dangerous and account for almost all deaths due to skin cancer. This aggressive form of cancer needs to be addressed immediately. Like most cancers, the risk of malignant melanomas will increase with age. If you feel you have developed any type of skin cancer be sure to see a dermatologist at once.