Skin cancer is a serious disease that affects hundreds of thousands of people. In summer, we most often hear additional warnings about damage caused by excessive exposure to sunlight on the skin. This is because more and more doctors and healthcare providers are investing in information campaigns on melanoma.
But is melanoma the only serious type of skin cancer?
The sun offers us many health benefits. Your body needs sunlight to synthesize vitamin D and calcium. Deficiency in these nutrients can cause bone weakness and diseases such as osteoporosis.
The problem arises when you expose yourself irresponsibly to the sun’s rays, which causes damage to your body. It starts as a sunburn and can get worse over time.
The most alarming threat is the carcinogenic effects of ultraviolet radiation. Most people are aware of the risks of melanoma. However, it is not the only serious type of skin cancer. It is also worth getting to know others to know how to prevent them.
Get to know your skin
Your skin is the body’s largest organ. Its main function is to protect against many threats from the outside world. These can be bacteria, microorganisms, extreme temperatures and solar radiation.
- Your skin is made up of different layers and tissues. The main layer and the part that is visible is the epidermis. Below is the dermis, followed by the subcutaneous tissues.
- Each layer is made up of different types of cells as well as glands and blood vessels. Your epidermis is made up of squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes.
What is skin cancer?
There are different types of skin cancer. Depending on where it develops, it will have a different name, symptoms, and treatment. The medical community divides types of skin cancer into two broad groups.
- The first is ‘non-melanomas’.
- The second is melanomas.
Both groups affect the cells of your epidermis.
Skin cancer – non-melanoma types
This skin cancer grows in your flat or basal cells within your epidermis. Most skin cancer cases are non-melanomas.
There are two types of cancer that are not melanoma: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
- It is the most common type of skin cancer in the world.
- It affects the basal cells that are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis.
- It develops in the parts of the body that are most exposed to the sun (face, ears, shoulders, neck).
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
- It is the second most common type of skin cancer.
- It affects the epithelial cells in your epidermis, on the topmost layer.
- It occurs more often in men and tends to develop in areas more exposed to the sun.
Both of these non-melanoma cancers have a very low risk of mortality or metastasis. They usually respond well to treatment and are easy to diagnose.
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer. Initially, it affects the superficial melanocytes of the epidermis, but later the lesions become deeper and more frequent.
- The risk of metastasis to other organs increases.
- It is very important to get melanoma diagnosed early to increase your chances of recovery.
- If melanoma is diagnosed in the first phase, surgical removal is 90% effective in getting rid of the disease.
Causes and prevention
The best form of prophylaxis is to use sunscreen and avoid sun exposure during the most dangerous hours of the day (11am to 4pm).
Specialists also point to other risk factors, such as:
- Exposure to chemicals such as arsenic, industrial tar and paraffin.
- Overexposure to radiation, for example during radiation therapy.
- Treatments that use ultraviolet light or treatments to treat psoriasis.
- Xeroderma pigmentosum, or Kaposi’s disease , a genetic disorder that reduces the skin’s ability to regenerate after sun damage .
- Basal cell syndrome and Gorlin syndrome, a congenital disease that causes many malignancies in the basal cells of the epidermis.
Healthy lifestyle habits are essential to keep your body healthy during the summer season. Don’t forget that caring for your skin also helps to increase your natural immunity.