Common Causes of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is one of the more common forms of cancer that people face. Thankfully, it can also be effectively treated when it is caught early on. Skin cancer, like most other cancers, is the result of a mutation in the DNA of your skin cells. These mutations affect the way that your skin cells grow, causing them to grow faster than they should. This leads to the formation of tumors, or a mass of cancer cells.

Skin cancer will always start on the external layer of your skin, known as the epidermis. Your epidermis is your body’s safety shield. It protects your body from everything going on in the outside world. The epidermis is made up of three different types of cells. There are squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes.

Squamous cells are what provide your skin the interior lining it needs to stay healthy. Basal cells are what create the new cells that replace the skin cells that die, and melanocytes are the cells that are in the lower part of the epidermis that create the melanin that is needed to protect your skin from the sun.

The type of treatment you receive will be based on where in the epidermis the cancer begins. A lot of the damage that leads to skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet light. This is one of the reasons why doctors are constantly encouraging their patients to wear long-sleeved shirts when they’re out in the sun and to use sun protection. Ultraviolet light can alter the DNA in skin cells, leading to cancer. People are not only exposed to ultraviolet light by the sun. Some people are exposed to ultraviolet light when they are in tanning beds.

It is important to point out that ultraviolet light is not the only cause of skin cancer. This is proven by the fact that some people develop it in parts of their body that are almost never exposed to the sun. This shows that there can be a link between most types of cancer and exposure to certain cancer-causing toxins. It is thought that these cancer-causing toxins can have a negative effect on your immune system, which in turn creates the conditions in which cancer cells can develop.

Anyone can develop skin cancer. It is a myth that individuals with dark skin cannot develop the disease. That said, those with lighter skin are more prone to get skin cancer. This is especially true if they don’t take steps to protect themselves from UV radiation. The risk increases in individuals who have light hair, light eyes and freckles. The same goes for those who are prone to sunburns.

Excessive exposure to the sun without protection and a history of getting sunburned are all things that can increase a person’s chance of developing skin cancer. Additionally, individuals who have moles on their body, especially abnormal moles, have a higher chance than others of developing skin cancer.

At Adams Dermatology, our trusted dermatologist can provide you with a thorough skin exam and help you learn about your skin cancer treatment options. Contact our office in Columbia to schedule your consultation and learn more.

Author
Melanie Adams, MD, PA Melanie L. Adams, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who has been in private, solo practice since September 2005. She is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. Her areas of expertise include skin cancer, dermatology of ethnic skin, general dermatology, and cosmetic dermatology.

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