Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of cells. There are three major type of skin cancer. They are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Of these three types of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious, aggressive and invasive.
Skin cancer can generally be cured if it is caught early in the disease process. It is important to learn the causes and risk factors of skin cancer so that you can do your part to prevent it.
The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to the sun. The depletion of the ozone layer is allowing a higher level of ultraviolet rays to reach the earth. Long term exposure to these UV rays increase your chances for skin cancer.
But exposure to the sun is not the only cause of skin cancer. There are other factors that come into play that will increase your chance of getting skin cancer.
If you have a fair complexion that freckles or burns easily, you are at a greater risk of getting skin cancer. Having irregular shaped moles or a lot of moles on your skin can increase your risk of melanoma.
Chemical exposure will put you at a higher risk for skin cancer. Arsenic that is used in some insecticides and found in some water supplies will put you at a higher risk for non-melanoma types of skin cancer. If you work in an environment that uses tar, coal, paraffin and oils you could develop skin cancer.
Prolonged or repeated exposure to radiation can cause skin cancer. People with HIV or other diseases that suppress the immune system will find themselves at a greater risk of getting skin cancer.
Psoralen, a drug used to treat psoriasis, will increase your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma when you are also exposed to ultraviolet rays, both from the sun and UV lights indoors. Those taking the drug should also be wary of the sun rays that come through large plate glass windows at work or at home.
There are a few hereditary diseases that will cause skin cancer also. Xeroderma pigmentosum and basal cell nevus syndrome are two of these hereditary diseases that will increase your risk for multiple types of skin carinomas.
Some of the genetic causes of skin cancer cannot be avoided. But by reducing your risk of ultraviolet ray exposure you can also reduce the potential that you will develop skin cancers. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors, even on cloudy days.
Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from the damaging UV rays of the sun. If you must work outside, try to do your work later in the evening when the sun is not as high in the sky.
Keep your tanning to minimum to avoid skin damage. A bronze tan may look good, but too much of a good thing could do a lot of irreparable damage to your skin, including wrinkles and a loss of collagen, the substance that keeps your skin smooth and elastic.
Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute: Causes of Skin Cancer
MayoClinic: Skin Cancer Causes
American Cancer Society: Skin Cancer Facts
University of Maryland Medical Center: Skin Cancer
Cancer Council Australia: Causes of Skin Cancer
Skin Cancer Foundation: Understanding UVA and UVB
American Academy of Dermatology: Skin Cancer: Who gets and causes