You’ve probably heard since you were a kid that the largest organ in our bodies is the skin. That’s why it’s so strange that so few people think twice before bombarding it with harmful radiation just so they can get a nice light bronze color for a few months.
Skin cancer is shockingly prevalent. Each year in the United States, there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined.
I think it’s time we started treating our skin the way we should. If you’re frighteningly pale, embrace it! You don’t have to go out and increase your risk of cancer for a temporary change of skin tone.
And it isn’t just sunbathers who are at risk. Between 40-50% of people in the United States who live to age 65 will have dealt with some form of skin cancer at least once.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, diagnosed in around 3.5 million cases each year. These are basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers – another estimated 73,000 cases of melanoma will have been diagnosed in 2015 alone.
Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
In the outer layers of the skin are the basal and squamous cells. When these cells become cancerous, they’re typically found in the more sun-exposed areas of the skin: the face, neck, ears, lips, and hands.
Cancer of the basal cells tends to slowly grow, and in some rare cases spread to other parts of the body. Squamous cell cancers grow into the deeper layers of the skin.
These kinds of skin cancer can be treated and even cured if they’re caught early on, before they spread. If left untreated, they can go on to create far worse problems.
Melanoma Skin Cancer
The cells that create brown skin pigment and protect the deeper layers of the skin from the effects of UV radiation are called melanin. Melanoma is a cancer that originates in the melanocytes, the cells that create melanin.
Virtually any part of the skin can be susceptible to melanoma, even those that rarely see sun exposure. It doesn’t even have to begin in the skin itself – it can sometimes start in the mouth or the eyes.