8 Facts You Need to Know About Skin Cancer

May is National Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection Month and Melanoma Awareness Month. As skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and the most treatable, when caught early, it’s important to understand what you can do to protect yourself. Background: Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. The 3 most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma– the most common type; squamous cell carcinoma– the second most common type; and melanoma – the least common yet deadliest type. The overall lifetime risk of developing skin cancer is one in five (for both melanomas and non-melanomas). The estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 98% in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 62% when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 18% when the disease metastasizes to distant organs. [i] Here’s a list of 8 facts you need to know about skin cancer. And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientists Dr. James Basilion and Dr. Daniel Von Hoff. 1.  The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet (UV) light About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers and 86% of melanomas have been linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. [ii] Early sun exposure, particularly frequent sunburns as a child, can also increase your skin cancer risks.   2. … but not all skin cancers are caused by the sun Smokers are more likely to develop skin cancer, particularly on the lips. While areas of the body that have been treated with radiation are more prone to developing skin cancer, conditions that weaken the immune system-such as immune suppression therapy associated with organ transplantation and exposure to certain chemicals like arsenic, industrial tar and coal also increase the risk of skin cancer. And like most cancers, having a family history (of melanoma) increases your risk of developing skin cancer.   3. Melanomas can develop anywhere on your body Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body including eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, and other places that are not exposed to the sun. These hidden melanomas are more common in people with darker skin. [iii]   4. Practice safe sunning Sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of most skin cancers. While people with fair skin may be more likely to develop skin cancer due to sun exposure, people with darker skin tones are at risk as well. Sunscreen protects against sunburn as well as harmful ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc on your skin on cloudy, overcast or winter days when there is no sunshine. It’s good to use sunscreen every day – even during the winter months. When possible, limit your outdoor activities between the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.   5. Avoid indoor tanning salons Research has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and … Continue reading 8 Facts You Need to Know About Skin Cancer