The need to use sunscreen is common knowledge now among many people, but the reason as to why they need to use it has been skewed. Too many people think sunscreen is simply used to prevent a sun burn and the real reason for using it – the protection against the suns harmful rays – has fallen to the wayside as it has been forgotten.
Sunscreen still serves a very important function in the protection of the skin from the harmful UV rays that piece our atmosphere. It is these rays that lead to most skin cancers, which the primary culprit being the UV Beta range of rays followed by the UV Alpha range. These two rays can affect the skin in different ways with UVA causing cells to age rapidly leading to wrinkles of the skin. Alpha rays are also thought to play a minor role in causing skin cancer in a person, with Beta rays being thought of as the cause of most skin cancers found in people.
For a person to understand the threat skin cancer poses if they do not adequately protect themselves, the person first needs to understand a little about what skin cancer does to the body. Skin cancer develops as a result of the DNA becoming damaged beyond what the body is able to repair. The cells in the body that are damaged this way will quickly begin to cluster and multiply to the point of forming a mass in the affected area called a tumor. Since cancer of the skin typically develops in the epidermal layer of the skin, this tumor will be clearly visible and closely resemble the appearance of a mole.
Of three common forms of skin cancer there is one that is far more deadly, and that is melanoma of the skin. Around 4% of the diagnosed cases of skin cancer each year are melanoma cases, and it is approximated that 1 person dies each hour from melanoma in the United States alone. Although this number is staggering, melanoma is actually not difficult to treat when caught in early stages. Typically it can be detected if a person takes the time to examine their body for the tell-tale sign of skin cancer, a new or changing mole.
If a mole is discovered and believed to be new, there a few signs the individual can look for on the mole itself to determine the possibility of the mole being cancerous. The five things to keep in mind when checking can be summed up by remembering the first five letters of the English alphabet:
- Asymmetry: If one half of the mole does not appear to match the other
- Border: If the edges of the mole are ragged or appear overly irregular
- Color: If the mole is multiple colors or has the appearance of being shaded brown, black, white, red, or tan
- Diameter: If the mole itself is larger than the eraser on a common pencil
- Evolution/Elevation: If the mole appears to be changing in qualities or is elevated noticeably from the skin.
Even with the knowledge to examine moles and the list of factors to look for, any new mole on the body should be examined by a professional to determine exactly what is going on with it. Melanoma is a serious, potentially fatal, matter that is preventable with early detection from checking your body. Don’t allow yourself the risk.