In honor of Melanoma Monday, we're sharing information about melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, and unfortunately, it's the most common cancer among 25- to 29-year-olds. However, melanoma, which can be described as the uncontrolled spread of pigment-producing cells, can be easily cured when detected early enough (find out where to get a free mole screening here). Discover more about this type of cancer and who has a greater risk for developing it when you keep reading.
DrSugar is in the house! This week she's schooling us on skin cancer.
Given that summertime is right around the corner and with warmer weather blessing a good part of the country, I figured it was a good time to share some knowledge about how to recognize skin cancers and how to prevent them.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and is now the most common cancer among people 25-29 years old. Anyone can get melanoma and it can develop anywhere on one's body. Most often, however, according to the Mayo Clinic, it develops in areas that have had exposure to the sun, such as your back, legs, arms, and face. It can grow on areas where there is less exposure to the sun, such as the soles of the feet, palms of the hands, eyes, and fingernail beds.
Today is Melanoma Monday, the kickoff to Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness month. And according to results released today by the American Academy of Dermatology, a disturbingly high number of young women today still don't feel that tanning is a serious threat.
The problem is, however, that most causes of melanoma are due to exposure to sunlight and UV light. Melanoma can be a serious form of skin cancer, and it's one of the fastest growing cancers among young adults. So for a surprising few facts about the survey and melanoma in general, just keep reading.
You might like being golden brown from a tan, but prolonged sun exposure can have serious risks that go beyond a sunburn. The most common form of cancer is skin cancer, which is a shame since it's highly preventable. Fortunately it's also very treatable, although deaths still do occur from the disease. In honor of National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here are five easy ways to keep yourself safe from the disease.
You may not think about phosphates much, but they're in an astonishing variety of foods: soda, candy, frozen pizzas, cheese, some skim milk, and ketchup, among other edibles. Unfortunately, their ubiquity may be a very bad thing indeed: A study from Emory University published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research suggests that they may be a factor in our high skin cancer rates. To find out more about the link between phosphates and skin cancer, just keep reading.
There was talk of a "tan tax" before, but now it's for real. On July 1, tanning bed users are in for a price hike. That's when the newly-passed health reform bill's 10 percent tax on tanning goes into effect. The tax is a measure designed to discourage people from exposing themselves to the dangerously high levels of UV rays in tanning beds, since tanning bed users double their risks of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Spray tan and self-tanners won't be affected, since they don't pose a health hazard and their tanning mechanism is unrelated to UV tanning. I'm glad for anything that discourages tanning, since it's unnecessary, causes premature aging, and has been proven to be terrible for you. Do you think a tax is the right way to get people to stop tanning?
In case you haven't heard it enough, you need to wear sunscreen every day. Need more proof? Recent studies published in the Archives of Dermatology have concluded that more and more people are being diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. In fact, treatments for this form of cancer have increased by about 77 percent between the years 1992-2006, making it the most common type of cancer. And scarily enough, it affects the population more than all other cancers put together.
What is non-melanoma skin cancer, anyway? Non-melanoma skin cancer involves the way either basal cell or squamous cells grow, and while both are rarely fatal and usually treatable, the latter can metastasize. "This is only going to get worse," dermatologist Dr. Suephy Chen told Business Week. "Our population is aging. Those people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s when there was not a big sun-protection message out there are now coming into their 50s and 60s and are starting to develop skin cancers."
Most non-melanoma skin cancers grow on areas of the body such as the neck, backs of hands, ears, shoulders, and face — all the places where sun exposure is most prevalent. Fortunately, it isn't that hard to protect yourself. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, don't hit up tanning beds, and stay out of the sun from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during its most intense hours.
This isn't shocking, given the genetic component in so many diseases, but it's another piece of news to make you wear your sunscreen and ask if someone in your family has had skin cancer. Melanoma, as well as other skin cancer types, have been proven heritable. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia found that if one twin in a set has melanoma, the other's risk increases 10 fold, while a fraternal twin's risk more than doubles if one has had it. They also found that having a sibling or parent with skin cancer also means that you're more likely to have some kind of skin cancer as well, though not only the type your relative had.
The takeaway? Some skin cancers, like some breast cancers, have a genetic factor. So if a loved one has had it, make sure you get frequent checks at the dermatologist, wear SPF daily, and learn the facts about self-examination.
Have you ever had a sunburn so extreme that it blistered? Take caution. You could be at least three times more likely to develop a melonoma. A recent study, conducted by the melanoma screening service MoleMap by Dermatologists, identified six risk factors that could pose possible warning signs. Here they are:
- Natural red or blond hair.
- Freckling located on the upper back area.
- A history of melanoma within your family.
- Teenage sunburns that resulted in blisters.
- Summer jobs outdoors that lasted for three or more years during your teenage years.
- Tendency to get scaly patches of skin on areas of the skin that have received sun exposure.
If one of these statements is true for you, then you are three times more likely to develop a melanoma. However, you are 10 times more at risk if two or more of these circumstances apply to you. If you're concerned, heed the advice of MoleMap director Dr. Martin Haskett. "It is important to note that although most of the questions in the survey related to sun exposure, once the risk factors are present a malanoma can appear at any time of year and in non sun-exposed body sites," he says. "This means people need to check their skin year-round and medical surveillance programs for those at highest risk."
Even more reason to wear sunscreen! We've already heard that skin cancer rates are rising in young women: in the past 25 years, new melanoma cases have increased by 50 percent in white women ages 15 to 39. But the story doesn't end there.
New research out of New York University suggests that genetics, in addition to sun exposure, could be contributing to the increase. Researchers have found a connection between estrogen and a specific genetic variant that makes women more likely to develop malignant melanoma.
How can we know if we have the gene? Well, right now, we simply can't. On the Today Show yesterday morning, Dr. Nancy Snyderman discussed the possibility of someday being able to identify who carries the gene. But until that's possible, this news is even more reason to protect your precious skin. Snyderman recommends taking a page from the Australians to "slip, slap, slop." For more on that from the Today Show clip, read more