The Skinny on Skin Cancer

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In many cases, growth is a good thing. Babies and young children are monitored to make sure that their physical growth is progressing properly. As adults, people are encouraged to grow intellectually, spiritually, and cognitively. If the growth is abnormal, however, and involves the body’s cells, cancer can occur. When the cells in question are skin cells, skin cancer can result.

What Cells Are Involved?

The epidermis is the top layer of the skin, and this thin protective cover contains several types of cells. These include squamous cells, which serve as the inner lining of the skin; basal cells, which make new skin cells; and melanocytes, which produce the skin-coloring pigment melanin.

Skin cancer can develop in any of the cells of the epidermis, and the location of its origin determines the specific type of cancer as well as the possible treatment options. Meeting with a specialist, such as a dermatologist Memphis, can help people understand the options that are available to them.    

What Are Some Risk Factors?    

Someone who has had excessive sun exposure or a history of sunburns is at an increased risk for skin cancer. Because a tan represents an injury response of the skin to excessive UV radiation, tanning can also increase a person’s risk. A person with fair skin has less melanin in his or her skin, and this means having reduced protection from damaging UV radiation. Having fair skin, therefore, puts a person at greater risk than a person with darker skin.

An individual who has a personal history, or a family history, of skin cancer is more likely to develop the disease. Exposure to substances such as arsenic or radiation may increase the likelihood of skin cancer. Living in sunny or high-altitude climates increases a person’s exposure to sunlight and radiation and, therefore, increases the risk of skin cancer. Individuals with abnormal moles, precancerous lesions, or a weakened immune system would also have a greater risk.

Although thinking about skin cancer may seem scary, this disease can be prevented in most instances. If skin cancer does develop, effective treatments exist.