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Microscopic Image of Skin Cancer

Preventable and curable, skin cancer remains an undeclared epidemic.

Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. Estimates vary on its occurrence, but about 500,000 Americans develop skin cancer every year.

There are three main forms of the disease.

  • Basal cell
  • Squamous cell
  • Malignant melanoma

Causes

Most medical experts agree that the main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Other factors include repeated medical and industrial X-ray exposure, scarring from disease or burns, occupational exposure to such compounds as coal and arsenic, and family history.

Prevention

Prevention is the best defense against skin cancer. Early detection is the surest way to a cure.

Prevention means guarding the skin against the known causes. Since the sun and its ultraviolet rays appear to be the main cause, the most effective way to prevent skin cancer is to limit the exposure of the skin to harmful rays by covering up and by the use of sunscreens with at least a 15 rating.

Detection

It is a simple routine to inspect your body for any skin changes. Each of the skin cancers is depicted in the following pages and can be readily detected. If, any growth, mole, sore or discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, see your dermatologist.

Fortunately, skin cancers are relatively easy to detect and most can be cured. Even malignant melanoma, if caught in its early stages, can be treated successfully.