Skin Cancer Essay, Research Paper
What Keeps Us Alive Can Also Kill UsSkin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. According to current estimates, 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have skin cancer at least once. There are two different types of skin cancer: Melanomous and non-melanomous. To understand both of these terms a little better you need to be aware that your skin is divided up into 3 layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutis. The top layer, the epidermis, is very thin and serves to protect the deeper layers of the skin. The epidermis is also composed of basal cells, which in turn divide to form squamous cells and melanocytes. Melanoma skin cancer develops from the melanocytes and non-melanomous skin cancer develops from the basal and squamous cells.
There are 2 types of non-melanomous cancer that result from these cells. The first is basal cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma begins in the lowest layer of the epidermis, the basal cell layer. About 75% of all skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas. This type of skin cancer tends to be slow growing and is usually found in areas that are highly exposed to sunlight, such as the head or neck. The second type is called squamous cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 20% of all skin cancers, and penetrates the skin more than basal cell would, therefore, is considered to be more harmful.
Unlike non-melanomous skin cancer, melanomous is much more uncommon and much more deadly. Melanomous skin cancer accounts for less than 4% of skin cancer cases, but causes about 79% of skin cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society predicts that in the year 2000 about 7,700 people will die of this cancer.
Surprisingly, even with these astonishing numbers people still continue to put themselves at risk everyday. Through the efforts of organizations such as the American Cancer Society people are becoming more aware everyday of the severity of skin cancer. The solution to all this is very simple, we all need to wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) when planning to expose ourselves to the sun. There are also other everyday preventive measures that we can take to decrease our chances of harmful exposure to the sun. It is always helpful to wear a shirt and a hat with a broad brim. Wear sunglasses that absorb 99%-100% of the UV rays to help your eyes and the skin around your eyes. The two most important things to remember are to seek shade whenever possible and to NEVER USE TANNING BEDS. You are only putting your body at even more of a risk when doing this.
Tanning beds and beauty are just a few of the reasons why some people choose to pay no attention to their health and instead try to achieve the temporary golden tan. In society today having and tan is thought of as attractive and appealing to the opposite sex. Unfortunately, tanning beds are used most frequently among teenagers. This is especially harmful because at this age the skin does not have as high of a tolerance for UV rays as and adult’s skin would have. Girls tend to show much more revealing clothes than guys do, and in some cases the clothes look more appealing when put on a tan body rather than a pasty white body. Winter dances also attract many girls to the tanning salons so that they are able to wear the dress that they want without having to deal with tan lines. Beauty is more of an issue when you consider having a permanent scar on your face because of the times when you felt the need to remove the tan line from your shoulders.
This day in age we are putting ourselves even more at risk by using these cancer-causing machines more than any other generation. My mother grew up when people were not very aware of the effects that long-term exposure had on your health. They did not even have effective sunscreen so that you could give your skin relief if you wanted to. Because of this, and the fact that she spent much of her time at the pool and on the lake as a child, she developed basal cell carcinoma at the age of 45. They found the infected area on the bridge of her nose. She had to undergo surgery to have the infected basal cells removed from her nose. She was more fortunate than most people were in that they did not have to remove skin from another part of her body to replace the infected skin on her nose. She now has a permanent scar on her nose that she finds very visible, although not easily recognized by the common person. Luckily she is not someone that is infatuated with her beauty so she has not let it get to her very much, but it is something she wishes she could’ve prevented as a child. Because of this experience she cannot understand why given all of the facts people still continue to damage their bodies in order to receive a temporary tan.
While there are some people that have a higher tolerance for a tan, there are many people who do not, that continue to hurt their bodies. Many of these people could develop skin cancer as they get older, and a key aspect of treatment is identifying the infected area quickly. There are many risk factors that you can determine yourself. If you have a mole that you believe to be abnormal in size that is an obvious warning sign in the development of skin cancer and you should have it checked immediately. An abnormal mole can be classified as more than ? inch in diameter, one side of the mole does not match the other side, the edges of the mole are ragged or notched, or the color of the mole is not the same all over. It is also good to be aware of the fact that fair skinned people have a 20% higher chance to develop skin cancer that dark skinned people. People with red/orange hair and many freckles are especially at risk, they are lacking a special chemical that protects most people from many UV rays. Age is also a factor, many people expose themselves to the harmful rays but do not develop the actual skin cancer until they are in their late 50s. So even if you have been good recently at putting on sunscreen you could still get skin cancer based upon the past.
If you were to find out that you developed skin cancer there are many different types of procedures that you could go through to remove the infected area. One of the most common procedures is surgery, the removal of the infected skin and in some cases grafting of skin from another area to replace the damaged skin. Surgery is considered for skin cancer that is still be in the beginning stages, and has not spread very much. If the development of the skin cancer is more advanced or if the infected area has spread chemotherapy or radiation therapy are two possible options. The disadvantages of these options is that they cause physical weakness during the treatment. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cells that appear to have spread beyond the skin to the lymph nodes, and other organs. Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or slow their rate of growth.
With the information and that facts that are now available there is no reason to not put on sunscreen whenever planning to go outside, especially during peak hours of the day. If beauty is still an issue for many then they should most definitely be putting on sunscreen because a large scar on your face is much less appealing to the opposite sex than a tan line.