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Prevention VS Cure: Skin Cancer

Of the cancers diagnosed worldwide, one in three is skin cancer. In the United States, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and in Australia, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with cancer of the skin by the age of 70. It is the most common cancer for people aged 15 to 44. With the continuing depletion of the ozone layer and the rise in outdoor activities, especially by the water's edge, over the last century, the global rates of skin cancer will continue to increase. The frustrating aspect of this disease is that it is largely preventable by taking protective measures. If detected early and treated, most cases of the disease can be cured.

There are three types of skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, but it is rare. It can develop on any area of the body, from existing moles, or from normal skin. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common of skin cancers, and it is the least dangerous. It is easily treated and tends to appear on skin generally exposed to the sun, including the head, neck, upper torso, and limbs. Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common form of skin cancer after BCC, and while not as dangerous as melanoma, it can spread through the body if left untreated. It also develops on sun-exposed skin areas like the head, neck, forearms, hands, torso, and limbs.

Preventing cancer depends largely on the sun protection measures that you take. Choose sun protective wear, including swimwear, when you are enjoying the beach or lakeside. Cover exposed skin with high SPF sunscreens of at least 30 SPF, broad-brimmed hats, and sunglasses with EPF ratings of 10. Staying out of the sun during its peak hours of 10am and 2 pm and choosing shade when you're out will further enhance your protective coverage. Keep an eye on any moles on your skin and show them to your doctor if you see that a new mole appears and grows. Also point out any change in existing moles, moles that bleed, those that are persistently itchy, or a mole or skin ulcer that doesn't heal. You can easily minimize your risk of skin cancer if you take care in the sun. After all, skin cancer prevention requires little effort and is always better than the cure.