Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and can develop virtually anywhere around the world. Due to its prevalence, it pays to be aware of the types of skin cancer that can develop and how you can minimise your risk of developing it.
One of the more common types of skin cancer is non melanoma skin cancer, which involves skin cells in the upper layers of the skin. Non melanoma skin cancer has a better prognosis than melanoma skin cancer. The cancer usually develops on areas of the skin that are often exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, usually from the sun, tanning beds, or sunlamps. Melanoma skin cancer can be divided into two types of carcinoma: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Following a confirmed diagnosis of skin cancer, patients will be able to proceed with treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy.
The majority of people who develop non melanoma skin cancer develop basal cell carcinoma, which originates from the basal skin cells. Statistics state that basal cell carcinoma constitutes almost 80% of all non melanoma skin cancer cases. This type of carcinoma usually affects the head and neck areas, which are often exposed to sun.
In the past, basal cell carcinoma commonly affected middle-aged people and the elderly. However, the disease has been diagnosed in larger numbers of younger people lately, which is probably due to their frequent, prolonged exposure to UV rays. The cancerous cells tend to proliferate at a slower rate and rarely do they spread to other parts of the body if a patient undergoes treatment.
Squamous cell carcinoma affects 20% of people who are diagnosed with non melanoma skin cancer. Despite the lower rate of occurrence, it is extremely important to gather as much squamous cell carcinoma information as possible. Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma usually develops on skin areas frequently exposed to UV rays. Scars and skin ulcers may also turn cancerous and develop squamous cell carcinoma over time. Although this type of cancer is less common compared to basal cell carcinoma, the nature of the cancerous cells is more aggressive and there is a higher risk of the cancer metastasising to other parts of the body.
In order to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer, take good care of your skin by always applying sunscreen whenever you are outdoors and avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight during the hottest times of the day.