Causes and risk factors of skin cancer
As with many other forms of cancer, skin cancer occurs when cells become exposed to various external conditions that can be potentially harmful. When this happens the genes of the cell mutate and become oncogenes, which can lead to cancer. It is not always clear as to what conditions can cause cancer; and, in some cases, it can be more than one condition promoting cancer growth, which can make it difficult to prevent all forms of the disease.
However, when speaking of skin cancer causes, most all experts agree that the most common environmental condition that causes it is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. While there are many sources of ultraviolet radiation, the most common source that people are exposed to on a daily basis is light from the sun.
This does not mean that everyone who sunbathes or spends a lot of time outdoors will develop skin cancer. As a matter of fact, many individuals who are exposed to a great deal of sunlight never develop this form of cancer; whereas, some people who rarely get out in the sun develop the disease rather quickly. This is because some people are simply more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation that other people are.
Skin sensitivity is mainly based on how much melanin people have in their bodies. Melanin is a natural chemical in the body that helps protect skin from the effects of the sun. When skin is exposed to too much sunlight, melanin will turn the skin brown to help protect it from becoming burnt. (This is how people get tans.)
People with pale skin have low amounts of melanin; thus, they cannot become tanned and are typically more vulnerable to UV rays than dark-skinned persons. However, it is essential to note that even dark-skinned persons can develop the disease if they have a genetic predisposition to it.
There are three forms of skin cancer, and they are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. The most common form is basal cell carcinoma, and it appears as small brownish or red marks on the skin. This type typically does not spread and is benign. Squamous cell carcinoma does not typically spread either, but it can. It also appears as brownish or red spots on skin.
Melanoma is the most serious of these forms of skin cancer; however, it is the rarest, as well. Melanoma can be malignant, meaning that it can grow out of control and become invasive. What this means is that it can interfere with tissues and even organs, destroying them and causing them to break down. This form can be hard to cure and can be life-threatening.
In conclusion, while there are many causes of skin cancer, the most common cause is ultraviolet radiation from the sun. The best way to prevent this disease is to limit exposure to sunlight, and have a doctor check any unusual spots on the skin. Wearing hats and dark clothing and using an excellent sunscreen is one of the best forms of defense, as well.