Thursday, October 30, 2008

The three types of skin cancer

By Dane Masters

The other day, I was taken by the hair coloring of a clerk at the local store. I commented on how beautiful it was, with the dark base and the natural-looking streaks, as if the sun had touched her alone; and we began a conversation of how when we were younger we would not have to use any hair dyes: we just sprayed SunIn on our hair and laid out in the sun for an hour or two. This of course led us to discussing the near impossibility of doing that now, as we have blasted the ozone layer(s) so hard we have created a direct line between us and the harsher (more deadly) rays of the sun (and no, SunIn is a pump spray, not an aerosol, so we didn't have to go there with culpability and irony and all).

You have however not come to this page to know more about sun free hair coloring methods, what you want to know more about is the many types of skin cancers. There is evidence that chemicals as well as the damaging rays of the sun are possible causes of skin cancer, but since we are not doctors or experts, what you would find here is some basic knowledge about skin cancer.

There are three different types of skin cancer including Squamous Cell Carcinoma; Basal Cell Carcinoma also called non-melanoma skin cancer; and Melanoma.

Melanoma (also called Malignant Melanoma or Cutaneous Melanoma) - The cancer cells take birth in the melanocytes which is the pigment that gives skin its color. The University of Maryland medicine says that Melanoma is the most harmful of all the different types of skin cancer. It mostly occurs in people who have fair skin, light hair and light eyes. It also occurs in people who have other complexions too. People who have brown or black complexion are equally at risk of contracting Melanoma. The symptoms of the disease includes moles that have recently changed color, shape, size, or its state (if it starts to ooze or bleed), or a mole that according to the University of Maryland medicine is swollen, itchy, or hard.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma- This is also known as non-melanoma skin cancer. In the early stages it manifested in red colored patches or nodules in the skin. It is the second most common type of cancer and affects mostly the fair skinned. It is evident mostly in the rims of the ears, lips, face, and mouth.

Basal Cell Carcinoma - The second of the types of skin cancer, Basal Cell Cancer, typically starts as a "small, fleshy bump or nodule," most commonly found on the head, neck, and/or hands. Of the three types of skin cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma, which is typically found in Caucasians, say those at UMM, make up "more than 90 percent in the U.S..

My mother had the second most common of the types of skin cancer, on her lip, and while we at first teased her that it was herpes, she was smart enough to know it was a "sun blister" and quick enough to catch it by going to a specialist. That's the good news, to give you hope when you bemoan the loss of days picnicking, swimming, and "bathing" under the wonderful sun.

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