Skin Cancer


Skin Cancer Essay, Research Paper

Of all different kinds of cancer, skin cancer is one of the most commonly

diagnosed cancers in the United States. Skin cancer is a disease which cancer cells are

found on the outer layers of the skin. Your skin protects the body from heat, infection,

light, injury and infection. It also stores fat, water, and vitamin D. The skin has two

layers and several different kinds of cells. With a certain lifestyle these cells can become

cancerous.(Prodigy Web Browser: An Introduction to skin Cancer {NET}, 1997)

Melanoma is associated with the highest case-fatality rate of all skin cancers.(Mortality

and Morbility Weekly Report Vol. 45/No. 17 , {MMWR}, 1996) Numerous studies have

delineated the natural history of skin cancers. Some cell carcinomas tend to grow and

invade slowly and steadily. Certain subtypes are more aggressive, and certain sites of

occurrence (scalp, shoulders and nose) are associated with worse cases. Malignant

melanoma may have a thin stage, in which survival rates are excellent. The length of thin,

or radial, growth phase may be months to years. If untreated at some point melanoma

enters a quick growth phase. When this occurs the survival rates plummet.(Brandt, 1996)

Skin Cancer can be avoided. A change in lifestyle can reduce the risk of skin cancer.

This includes awareness of the reality of skin cancer, avoiding the sun, and self-

examination and screening.

Most of the time when people think of a serious disease they think of things like

lung cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and other hot topic diseases of

that nature. Skin cancer awareness and the seriousness of skin cancer is far less

emphasized. The MMWR did a survey of knowledge of and awareness about melanoma

in the united states in 1995. In 1996, an estimated 38,300 cases of melanoma were

diagnosed, and an approximately 7300 melanoma deaths would occur . Intervention

strategies can be developed with information and public awareness of melanoma.

(MMWR) To help awareness and public knowledge about melanoma, the American

Academy of Dermatology conducted a nation wide survey in 1995. (shown in appendix A)

This report summarizes the survey findings, which indicate that a high proportion (42%)

of respondents had no knowledge about melanoma. The level of awareness was lowest

among persons aged 18 to 24 years of age.(MMWR) Respondents were asked “Can you

tell me what melanoma is?”; 55% knew it was a type of cancer, 34% knew it was a type of

skin cancer and 42% did not know about melanoma. After being informed on melanoma,

they identified at least one risk factor of it. Most identified the risk involved with

exposure to the sun. Awareness also was varied substantially by demographic factors

including sex, race, age, education, income, and religion. (MMWR)

In recent decades worshipping the sun has become a cult. A deep tan and is

popularly regarded as a sign of robust health and beauty. Some go as far as using

artificial tanning milk if they can’t get one naturally. While millions bask in the sun and

follow the sun far south in winter, artificially produced tanning rays can give people their

tan at home.(Brody, 1982) Unfortunately, ultra violent rays are a trouble maker. A good

appreciation for the sun’s harm is long overdue. Most people won’t abandon their sun god

overnight, dermatologist hope that a better understanding on the sun’s harm will inspire a

safer form of worship.(Brody) The lack of understanding has spawned fatal and very

morbid cases of skin cancer. Certain factors such as skin type and time of exposure also

determine the risk of cancer. There are certain precautions than can be taken to help

lesson the affects of sun exposure. Use of sun blocking agents such as sunscreens, hats

and protective apparel other can reduce the risks substantially. Sunscreens, not to be

confused with tanning oils, come in different degree’s of protection. According to skin

type and time of day determine what level of sunscreen is sufficient protection.(Brody) It

is smart to apply sunscreen with an at least SPF-15 or higher, to all areas of the body that

are exposed to the sun. Apply again every two hours, even on cloudy days. Also after

swimming or perspiring. Avoid exposure to ultra violent rays such as sun lamps or

tanning parlors. Keep children protected from excessive sun exposure especially when the

sun is the strongest (10:00AM and 3:00PM).(NET) Always consult a physician with

questions concerning health affects to ultra violent exposure.

The third change in lifestyle is self-examination and screening. There should be no

excuse for it when a safe, inexpensive screening test exist and when a person can learn

what to look for at home. Screening is most helpful when the disease is highly prevalent,

and a natural history of the disease is known.(Brandt) Self-examination requires no time.

A person should look for black spots on the skin and rapid growth of moles and


Skin cancer is a terrible disease that causes fatal and morbid results. I seems as if it

is a topic that is left alone and that makes the disease even more dangerous. It is sad to

think that so many people suffer from a cancer that could have been so easily prevented

with proper precautions and education that require none to little effort what so ever. Just a

small adjustment in one’s lifestyle.

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