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Skin Cancer

 

Some 160,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year, and it is more frequent in white-skinned people, particularly those in hot countries. Currently one in five North Americans and one in three Caucasians will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.   Those most at risk have fair skin, freckles, red or blond hair, moles, a family history of the disease and those who have had five or more sunburns as children.

 

The A-B-C-D-Easy Guide

To detect signs of a melanoma, look out for:

  • Asymmetry - the two halves of the area may differ in shape
  • Border - the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
  • Color - this may be uneven. If a mole changes color, or has a mixture of several colors such as brown, pink, tan or red, have it checked.
  • Diameter - most melanomas are at least ¼“in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
  • Expert - if in doubt, check it out! If your General Practioner is concerned about your skin, make sure you consult a Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer.

In addition, there are 3 other important points

  • Moles should not be scaly or itchy.
  • A mole that becomes hard or lumpy could be a problem. So could a mole that oozes or bleeds. And if the pigment begins to spread into the skin around the mole, show your doctor.
  • Not all melanomas will be in obvious areas. They can form in your scalp, genital area, under a fingernail, even between your toes. In people of color, melanomas often form in these hidden spots. Dermatologists recommend full-body evaluations to check for problems.

 

Skin Cancer Survival

It was the renowned British surgeon John Hunter who is reported to have been first to operate on a melanoma, in 1787. Unsure of precisely what he had found, the anatomist described the growth as a 'cancerous fungous excrescence'. The excised tumor, still preserved in a cabinet in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, was not identified until nearly 200 years later as an example of metastatic melanoma, a form of the cancer that had spread.

The disease is caused by the uncontrolled, sometimes frenzied, growth of pigment cells known as melanocytes which are found predominantly in skin. It is not the only form of skin cancer, nor the most common, but it is responsible for the most deaths. Those who survive the cancer have usually spotted it at a relatively early stage, and the crucial factor for doctors is the thickness of the mole, or tumors, itself. If the malignancy is diagnosed when it is still less than .05 inches in thickness, then the chance of being alive five years after diagnosis is more than 90 per cent for both men and women, but for those whose tumors are thicker than a tenth of an inch, that chance falls to 52 per cent for women, and 42 per cent for men. This is because the thicker tumors have embedded themselves into the skin, and malignant cells have had a chance to spread.

Cancerous cells can break off from the tumors and move through the lymph nodes, or they can move into other organs such as the lungs or the brain, by which time it is impossible to treat.

New research has also shown that an individual's survival depends on where on the body the skin cancer first appears. A highly significant study of 51,704 previous melanoma cases in the US, found that melanomas occurring on the scalp or neck led to death at nearly twice the rate of melanomas on other parts of the body.

It had always been suspected that scalp and neck skin cancers had a worse prognosis because they are often diagnosed later than other forms of the disease. The new study took this delay in diagnosis into account and still showed a clear difference in survival rates.

 
Skin Cancer Survival

Only 6% of melanoma patients present with the disease on the scalp or neck, but those patients account for 10% of melanoma deaths

Although more women than men get melanoma, more men die from it because they do not seek help quickly enough.

Much of the damage to our skin may be happening before we are even aware of it. It seems to be children who are the most vulnerable, as they are at a higher risk of suffering damage from exposure to ultra-violet radiation than adults. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive, and even a short time outdoors can result in a red and sore burn.

Long-term population studies have shown that episodes of sunburn in childhood also set the stage for high rates of melanoma later in life. As about 80 per cent of a person's lifetime exposure to UV is received before the age of 18, covering up children is crucially important for parents


1 million good reasons to change your sun exposure.

If you’re getting tanned at all, you’re being exposed to UV radiation; and if you’re exposed to UV radiation, you are increasing your risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, representing more cases than prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries and pancreas cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, most of the 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed every year are sun-related. ACS estimates that over 62,000 new cases of melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, will be diagnosed in 2006 in the U.S. Though treatment and survival rates are excellent given early detection, melanoma will still claim nearly 8,000 lives this year.

 

 

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Disclaimer: Information on this web site was gathered from many sources in public domain such as published books, articles, studies and web sites. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss your health conditions and treatments with your personal physician.

 

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