Cancer is a very general term used to describe a potentially devastating disease. There are actually more than 100 conditions that are considered to be “cancer”. All of these ailments are related to diseased cells in the body.
Healthy cells grow, divide and replace themselves on a continual basis. That’s how the body’s tissue is created, and it’s how a healthy body grows, repairs itself and stays in good health. Cancer occurs when some of these cells lose their ability to perform these tasks. The duplication, progress and growth capability of the cells is limited. The cells may divide themselves too rapidly, and may grow without organization. Malignant or benign tumors are formed when the cancerous cells produce too much tissue.
Benign tumors are those which do not lead to cancer. When a tumor is benign, it’s not life-threatening and it won’t extend to the rest of the body. Once these types of tumors are removed via surgery, they usually won’t return. Benign tumors are typically more of a nuisance than a threat.
Malignant tumors do lead to cancer. They cause illness to the body by invading and destroying the neighboring healthy tissues and organs. They can grow new tumors in the body by spreading or metastasizing to other organs.
The two main kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. A carcinoma is the term used to describe a cancer that begins in the cells that cover or surround an organ.
In the United States, basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly, and it rarely spreads to other areas. Regardless, it’s important that all types of skin cancer are found early and promptly treated, preventing them from invading and destroying nearby tissues.
Basel cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinomas are often referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer. A melanoma is another form of cancer that can occur in the skin, which begins in the melanocytes.
Skin cancers presently account for the most common types of cancer in the United States. An estimated 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to be 65 years and older will develop skin cancer at least once in their lifetime. It’s important to note, however, that people of any age and nationality can develop skin cancer. Fair-skinned, freckled people with red or blond hair and blue or light colored eyes are most risk of developing the disease.
The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) radiation is the most common cause of skin cancer. The sun creates two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. Tanning booths and sun beds create artificial UV radiation, and will also cause skin cancer.
Skin cancer affects a greater number of people living in certain areas of the world. Those who live under the hot Texan sun are particularly at risk. Skin cancer rates are also higher in Australia and South Africa, where people are exposed to excessive amounts of the sun’s UV rays every day. Those living in these, and other areas where UV exposure is high, are more likely to develop skin cancer.