Skin Cancer


Of all different kinds of cancer, skin cancer is one of the most commonly
diagnosed cancers in the United States. Skin cancer is a disease which cancer cells are
found on the outer layers of the skin. Your skin protects the body from heat, infection,
light, injury and infection. It also stores fat, water, and vitamin D. The skin has two
layers and several different kinds of cells. With a certain lifestyle these cells can become
cancerous.(Prodigy Web Browser: An Introduction to skin Cancer NET}, 1997)
Melanoma is associated with the highest case-fatality rate of all skin cancers.(Mortality
and Morbility Weekly Report Vol. 45/No. 17 , MMWR}, 1996) Numerous studies have
delineated the natural history of skin cancers. Some cell carcinomas tend to grow and
invade slowly and steadily. Certain subtypes are more aggressive, and certain sites of
occurrence (scalp, shoulders and nose) are associated with worse cases. Malignant
melanoma may have a thin stage, in which survival rates are excellent. The length of thin,
or radial, growth phase may be months to years. If untreated at some point melanoma
enters a quick growth phase. When this occurs the survival rates plummet.(Brandt, 1996)
Skin Cancer can be avoided. A change in lifestyle can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
This includes awareness of the reality of skin cancer, avoiding the sun, and self-
examination and screening.
Most of the time when people think of a serious disease they think of things like
lung cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and other hot topic diseases of
that nature. Skin cancer awareness and the seriousness of skin cancer is far less
emphasized. The MMWR did a survey of knowledge of and awareness about melanoma
in the united states in 1995. In 1996, an estimated 38,300 cases of melanoma were
diagnosed, and an approximately 7300 melanoma deaths would occur . Intervention
strategies can be developed with information and public awareness of melanoma.
(MMWR) To help awareness and public knowledge about melanoma, the American
Academy of Dermatology conducted a nation wide survey in 1995. (shown in appendix A)
This report summarizes the survey findings, which indicate that a high proportion (42%)
of respondents had no knowledge about melanoma. The level of awareness was lowest
among persons aged 18 to 24 years of age.(MMWR) Respondents were asked "Can you
tell me what melanoma is?"; 55% knew it was a type of cancer, 34% knew it was a type of
skin cancer and 42% did not know about melanoma. After being informed on melanoma,
they identified at least one risk factor of it. Most identified the risk involved with
exposure to the sun. Awareness also was varied substantially by demographic factors
including sex, race, age, education, income, and religion. (MMWR)
In recent decades worshipping the sun has become a cult. A deep tan and is
popularly regarded as a sign of robust health and beauty. Some go as far as using
artificial tanning milk if they can\'t get one naturally. While millions bask in the sun and
follow the sun far south in winter, artificially produced tanning rays can give people their
tan at home.(Brody, 1982) Unfortunately, ultra violent rays are a trouble maker. A good
appreciation for the sun\'s harm is long overdue. Most people won\'t abandon their sun god
overnight, dermatologist hope that a better understanding on the sun\'s harm will inspire a
safer form of worship.(Brody) The lack of understanding has spawned fatal and very
morbid cases of skin cancer. Certain factors such as skin type and time of exposure also
determine the risk of cancer. There are certain precautions than can be taken to help
lesson the affects of sun exposure. Use of sun blocking agents such as sunscreens, hats
and protective apparel other can reduce the risks substantially. Sunscreens, not to be
confused with tanning oils, come in different degree\'s of protection. According to skin
type and time of day determine what level of sunscreen is sufficient protection.(Brody) It
is smart to apply sunscreen with an at least SPF-15 or higher, to all areas of the body that
are exposed to the sun. Apply again every two hours, even on cloudy days. Also after
swimming or perspiring. Avoid exposure to ultra violent rays such as sun lamps or
tanning parlors. Keep children protected from excessive sun exposure especially when the
sun is the strongest (10:00AM and 3:00PM).(NET) Always consult a physician with
questions concerning health affects to ultra violent exposure.
The third change in lifestyle is self-examination and screening. There should be no
excuse for it when a safe, inexpensive