May 6, 2007 by Peter Jameson
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer but fortunately it is also the most curable.
The two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer and they usually form on the head, face, neck, hands and arms.
Another type of skin cancer is melanoma which is more dangerous but less common.
Anyone can get skin cancer but it is most common in people who
- Spend a lot of time in the sun or have been sunburned
- Have light colored skin, hair and eyes
- Have a family member with skin cancer
- Are over age 50
Have your doctor check any suspicious skin markings and any changes in the way that your skin looks as treatment is far more likely to work when the cancer is found early. If left untreated certain types of skin cancer cells can spread to other tissues and organs.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun and to also, protect children from it an early age. Doctors suggest people of all ages to limit their time in the sun and to avoid other sources of UV radiation:
- Stay out of the midday sun (from mid-morning to late afternoon) whenever you can. You should also protect yourself from the UV radiation reflected by sand, water, snow, and ice. UV radiation can pass through light clothing, windshields, windows and clouds.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants made of tightly woven fabrics, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses that absorb UV.
- Sunscreen lotions may help prevent skin cancer, especially ones with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (to filter UVB and UVA rays) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.
- Stay away from sunlamps and tanning booths.
Sometimes all of the cancer is removed during an initial biopsy and in such cases no further treatment will be needed.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type and stage of the disease, its size and place and on your general health and medical history.
Make a list of questions before arriving for an appointment.
To help you remember what the doctor says you should take notes or ask whether you may record the conversation. You may also want to have a family member or a friend go with you to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or simply just to listen so that the two of you can discuss things afterwards.
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