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Know the facts about skin cancer

The skin is the largest organ of the body, protecting muscles, bones, ligaments and organs. According to the KWF, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the Netherlands. Skin cancer, like all cancers, is capable of destroying healthy tissue and spreading it to other parts of the body. If left undetected or untreated, skin cancer can lead to loss of vital functions or death. So it's important to keep an eye on your skin and look for changes that could be a sign of skin cancer.

Types of skin cancer
There are many types of skin cancer with a variety of causes, most commonly ultraviolet radiation that directly damages the skin's DNA. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous carcinoma and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, and the least prone to spreading from the primary tumor site. It is a locally destructive cancer, and if left untreated it can become a bleeding sore that eventually destroys the structures it overlies. When skin cells are exposed to ultraviolet rays, the DNA can become damaged over time, leading to the potential for basal cell carcinoma growth. People with a history of sunburn are more prone to this type of skin cancer.

The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which is most common due to chronic sun exposure. It is both locally destructive and prone to spread to lymph nodes and other organs.

Melanoma spreads quickly and can be fatal if left untreated. Acral lentiginous melanoma is commonly seen on the palms, soles, and under the toenails of dark-skinned patients.

Risk Factors Most skin cancers result from exposure to radiation from the sun or other sources. UV radiation from the sun directly damages the skin DNA of sensitive people. Over time, this damage can build up, leading to the formation of cancer cells, which grow into tumors. Sources of artificial UV rays, such as tanning beds and manicure UV lamps, also contribute.

Genetics play a large role in the underlying risk for sun-induced cancer and appear to be more important in melanoma. Global location is important because the sun's UV radiation is most intense near the equator.

Anyone can develop skin cancer, although the common types and locations vary by ethnicity. Although less common, even people with highly pigmented skin can develop skin cancer.

The top risk factors include fair skin with a tendency to sunburn, red hair or fair hair, light eyes, growing up in southern latitudes, history of numerous sunburns, working outdoors or spending a lot of time outdoors, routine and prolonged exposure to the sun, family history of skin cancer, age, prior radiation treatments, chronic lymphoma or leukemia, and immune system-altering drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Signs of non-melanoma skin cancer include new red lesions that are growing steadily, non-healing sores or crusted areas on the skin, lumps with a “pearl-like” or translucent surface, and any growth of patches on the surface of the skin. skin.

Melanomas are darkly pigmented, discolored areas or lumps with an asymmetrical shape, irregular sides, or dark black or multi-colored surface. While the majority of melanomas do not arise from moles, new or changing moles in adults should be examined.

Protect your skin
The most important aspect of protecting your skin is to prevent UV radiation from the sun. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on exposed areas every day. Look for products that don't feel greasy and block both UVA and UVB. Many regular moisturizers now contain sunscreen, making choosing a comfortable sunscreen quite easy and inexpensive. Wear protective clothing and/or a hat with sunglasses in the sun. Avoid peak sunshine hours of the day between 10am and 5pm.