Skin Cancer News:
Use Only Fraction of Sunscreen Needed to Get Protection:
Recent studies have shown that most people apply
only 20 to 60 percent of the amount of sunscreen needed to actually
get the protection that the sun protection factor (SPF) rating of
the product promises.
Skin Cancer News:
Find Gene Mutation That Is Cause of Malignant Melanoma:
Sixty-six percent of malignant melanomas have mutations
in the BRAF gene. The mutation is not inherited and appears to be
a spontaneous event possibly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet
rays from the sun.
League Baseball Players in 4th Year of Fight Against Skin Cancer:
Teams throughout North America will be screened
for skin cancer during the season by local dermatologists in their
Being Tested for Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma:
Researchers have reported tumor response, including a 45 percent
tumor regression as well as long-term stable disease, in two Phase
of Sunscreen Does Not Appear to Cause Malignant Melanoma: Researchers
see no link between the use of sunscreen and the most serious form
of skin cancer.
"Imaging Gun" Enables Doctors to Detect Melanomas Instantly:
The SolarScan is placed on a patient's skin and takes
an image of the suspicious area. The scan reads the image and compares
it with a database of skin tumors.
Finds Many Still Believe Getting a Tan Is Healthy:
Researchers say many people still have misconceptions
about appropriate sun safety precautions.
Devise Way to Estimate UV Radiation Blocked by Trees:
Findings may eventually influence how communities
are built as part of the effort to reduce the incidence of skin
Density at Upper Inner Arm Strong Risk Predictor in Caucasian Men:
Researchers say men with low melanin density are
several times more likely to develop skin cancer than those with
more melanin in their skin.
Additive Can Help Block UV Rays From Penetrating Clothing: The
Skin Cancer Foundation says most lightweight summer clothing does
not adequately protect skin, and recommends use of a laundry additive.
Drug Apomine May Be Used to Treat and Prevent Melanoma: Researchers
say the drug, originally developed to treat high cholesterol, causes
tumor regression and deflects DNA damage.
Who Spend Little Time in Sun at Greater Risk of Skin Cancer: Australian
researchers say that those who get outdoors only on weekends and
holidays are at highest risk.
The skin is
the body's outer covering. It is made up of two main layers: the
outer epidermis and the inner dermis.
(outer layer of the skin) is mostly made up of flat, scale-like
cells called squamous cells. Under the squamous cells are round
cells called basal cells. The deepest part of the epidermis also
contains melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which gives the
skin its color.
The dermis (inner
layer of skin) contains blood and lymph vessels, hair follicles,
and glands. These glands produce sweat, which helps regulate body
temperature, and sebum, an oily substance that helps keep the skin
from drying out. Sweat and sebum reach the skin's surface through
tiny openings called pores.
is the most common type of cancer in the United States. According
to current estimates, 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to
age 65 will have skin cancer at least once.
The two most
common kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous
cell carcinoma. (Carcinoma is cancer that begins in the cells that
cover or line an organ.)
- Basal cell
carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers
in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that seldom
spreads to other parts of the body.
cell carcinoma also rarely spreads, but it does so more often
than basal cell carcinoma. However, it is important that skin
cancers be found and treated early because they can invade and
destroy nearby tissue.
Basal cell carcinoma
and squamous cell carcinoma are sometimes called nonmelanoma skin
of cancer that occurs in the skin is melanoma, which begins in the
melanocytes. Melanoma is the most serious cancer of the skin, and
can can occur on any skin surface. In men, it is often found on
the trunk (the area from the shoulders to the hips) or the head
and neck. In women, melanoma often develops on the lower legs.
be cured if it is diagnosed and treated when the tumor is thin and
has not deeply invaded the skin. However, if a melanoma is not removed
at its early stages, cancer cells may grow downward from the skin
surface, invading healthy tissue. When a melanoma becomes thick
and deep, the disease often spreads to other parts of the body and
is difficult to control.
(UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer, although
artificial sources of UV radiation, such as sunlamps and tanning
booths, can also cause skin cancer.
The risk of
developing skin cancer is affected by where a person lives. People
who live in areas that get high levels of UV radiation from the
sun are more likely to get skin cancer. In the United States, for
example, skin cancer is more common in Texas than it is in Minnesota,
where the sun is not as strong.
skin cancer is related to lifetime exposure to UV radiation. Most
skin cancers appear after age 50, but the sun's damaging effects
begin at an early age. Therefore, protection should start in childhood
to prevent skin cancer later in life.
people should avoid exposure to the midday sun (from 10 a.m. to
2 p.m. standard time, or from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daylight saving
time). Keep in mind that protective clothing, such as sun hats and
long sleeves, can block out the sun's harmful rays. Also, lotions
that contain sunscreens can protect the skin. Sunscreens are rated
in strength according to a sun protection factor (SPF), which ranges
from 2 to 30 or higher. Those rated 15 to 30 block most of the sun's
The most common
warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially
a new growth or a sore that doesn't heal. Skin cancers don't all
look the same. For example, the cancer may start as a small, smooth,
shiny, pale, or waxy lump. Or it can appear as a firm red lump.
Sometimes, the lump bleeds or develops a crust. Skin cancer can
also start as a flat, red spot that is rough, dry, or scaly.
Both basal and
squamous cell cancers are found mainly on areas of the skin that
are exposed to the sun -- the head, face, neck, hands, and arms.
However, skin cancer can occur anywhere.
which appears as rough, red or brown scaly patches on the skin,
is known as a precancerous condition because it sometimes develops
into squamous cell cancer. Like skin cancer, it usually appears
on sun-exposed areas but can be found elsewhere.
Often, the first
sign of melanoma is a change in the size, shape, color, or feel
of an existing mole. Most melanomas have a black or blue-black area.
Melanoma also may appear as a new, black, abnormal, or "ugly-looking"
mole. Other frequent findings are newly formed fine scales or itching
in a mole. In more advanced melanoma, the texture of the mole may
change. For example, it may become hard or lumpy.
Changes in the
skin are not sure signs of cancer; however, it is important to see
a doctor if any symptom lasts longer than 2 weeks. Don't wait for
the area to hurt -- skin cancers seldom cause pain.
The cure rate
for skin cancer could be 100 percent if all skin cancers were brought
to a doctor's attention before they had a chance to spread. Therefore,
people should check themselves regularly for new growths or other
changes in the skin. Any new, colored growths or any changes in
growths that are already present should be reported to the doctor
also look at the skin during routine physical exams. People who
have already had skin cancer should be sure to have regular exams
so that the doctor can check the skin -- both the treated areas
and other places where cancer may develop.
Basal cell carcinoma
and squamous cell carcinoma are generally diagnosed and treated
in the same way. When an area of skin does not look normal, the
doctor may remove all or part of the growth. This is called a biopsy.
To check for cancer cells, the tissue is examined under a microscope
by a pathologist or a dermatologist. A biopsy is the only sure way
to tell if the problem is cancer.
If the doctor
suspects that a spot on the skin is melanoma, the patient will need
to have a biopsy, and the doctor will try to remove all of the suspicious-looking
growth. If the growth is too large to be removed entirely, the doctor
removes a sample of the tissue. Sometimes it is helpful for more
than one pathologist to look at the tissue to determine whether
melanoma is present.
Many skin cancers
can be cut from the skin quickly and easily. In fact, the cancer
is sometimes completely removed at the time of the biopsy, and no
further treatment is needed.
is found, however, the doctor needs to learn the extent, or stage,
of the disease before planning treatment. The treatment plan takes
into account the location and thickness of the tumor, how deeply
the melanoma has invaded the skin, and whether melanoma cells have
spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Removal
of nearby lymph nodes for examination under a microscope is sometimes
necessary. (Such surgery may be considered part of the treatment
because removing cancerous lymph nodes may help control the disease.)
The doctor also does a careful physical exam and, depending on the
thickness of the tumor, may order chest x-rays; blood tests; and
scans of the liver, bones, and brain.
melanoma are often treated by a team of specialists, which may include
a dermatologist, surgeon, medical oncologist, and plastic surgeon.
The standard treatment for melanoma is surgery; in some cases, doctors
may also use chemotherapy, biological therapy, or radiation therapy.
The doctors may decide to use one treatment method or a combination
most skin cancers are cured, the disease can recur in the same place.
Also, people who have been treated for skin cancer have a higher-than-average
risk of developing a new cancer elsewhere on the skin. That's why
it is so important for them to continue to examine themselves regularly,
to visit their doctor for regular checkups, and to follow the doctor's
instructions on how to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer
have a high risk of developing separate new melanomas. Some also
are at risk for a recurrence of the original melanoma in nearby
skin or in other parts of the body. To increase the chance that
a new melanoma will be detected as early as possible, patients should
follow their doctor's schedule for regular checkups.
provided by: National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health,
Bethesda, MD 20892