The most common skin cancers attributed to the use of tanning beds are basal cell carcinoma, Squamous-cell carcinoma and Melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type of skin cancer is Basal cell carcinoma, also known as BCC, which affects more than 800,000 Americans in a single year. This cancer happens in a vast majority of all skin cancer occurrences.
This type of cancer develops in the skin’s basal cells, which are located at the very bottom of the epidermis.
Most of the people who are affected with this type of cancer are older people, more particularly men who worked outdoors most of the time. The number of new cases of BCC has increased over the past few decades and the average age of development of the disease has decreased.
Nowadays, more women are getting this type of cancer as compared to the numbers in the past; however, this figure is still greatly outnumbered by men.
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Basal cell carcinoma mostly occurs on the parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight and its cause is mostly attributed to constant exposure to the sun. On the other hand, the development of tumors on areas that are not exposed does happen but only very rarely.
This type of skin cancer can also be caused by exposure to radiation, contact with arsenic, the complications of scars, vaccinations, burns, and tattoos.
The people who have fair skin, blue, green and gray colored eyes, and blonde and red hair have the highest risk of developing BCC. Individuals who work outdoors or are exposed to a lot of ultraviolet radiation are also in danger of developing this type of cancer.
The five most common characteristics of this type of cancer
- Open sores that bleed, ooze or crust and those that remain open for more than three weeks.
- An irritated area or a reddish patch that usually occurs on the chest area, the shoulders, legs and arms.
- The red patch may sometimes crust, hurt or may be itchy. Some of these patches may also stay without causing any discomfort to the individual.
- A rather shiny nodule or bump that is translucent or pearly and is red, pink or white in color. For people with dark hair, these nodules can also be black, brown or tan in color, most often confused with moles.
- An area on the skin that resembles a scar. This area can be white, waxy or yellow and has weakly defined borders most of the time. This usually signifies the existence of a very aggressive tumor.
Squamous cell carcinoma
The second most common type of skin cancer is the Squamous cell carcinoma. This type affects in excess of 200,000 individuals in a year.
This type of cancer commonly occurs in the epidermis, mostly on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, however, this cancer can also occur in the mucous membranes.
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Squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, usually develops in the epidermis, but will eventually go deeper into the skin’s underlying tissues if left untreated. This might result in disfigurement and in some cases, may spread or metastasize to the different organs and tissues in the body and may become fatal.
Chronic exposure to ultraviolet rays is said to be the cause of majority of the SCC cases today. This is probably why most tumors develop in the parts of the body that are exposed. SCC can also occur on areas where the skin has suffered a certain type of injury such as scars, burns, sores and those areas that were exposed to x-rays and certain kinds of chemicals.
Medical conditions that overwhelm the immune system as well as recurring skin inflammations may also promote the development of SCC.
Individuals with fair skin tones have the highest risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. This is also true for people who are frequently exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
Some signs that should cause some concern
- A growth that resembles a wart, characterized by occasional bleeding and may also form a crust.
- A red patch, fairly persistent and with rather undefined borders characterized by bleeding and crusting.
- An open sore that perseveres for weeks and is characterized by bleeding and crusting.
- An elevated growth on the skin that has a depression in the center that bleeds occasionally.
The least common type of skin cancer is Melanoma. This type is also considered to be the most dangerous. If diagnosed, melanoma may be removed and may be cured, however, if it has already metastasized, this type of cancer can become rather difficult to treat and can be fatal.
In the past decade, the number of new cases of melanoma has increased at a higher rate as compared to the other types of cancers. More than 51,000 new cases are reported every year.
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Melanoma originates from the cells that produce melanin, the pigment that colors the skin, eyes and hair. Some types of melanoma are more dangerous than others. Invasive melanomas are the most serious and may penetrate deeply into the skin.
- The most common type of melanoma is the superficial spreading melanoma. This type accounts for about 70 percent of all melanoma cases that are reported.
- Lentigo maligna melanoma also stays close to the surface of the skin for a while; however, this type is an invasive form of melanoma.
- The third type, acral lentiginous melanoma, spreads on the surface before penetrating. This type of melanoma can be found in dark skinned individuals.
- The fourth type, nodular melanoma, is invasive and its malignancy can be recognized once it has formed a bump. This type is the most aggressive type of melanoma.
All these types of cancer are attributed to over exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation. Tanning beds work the same way as the sun and produces the same ultraviolet radiation at different amounts. It is recommended that one practice extreme caution in using tanning beds and should always put on some form of protection, be it lotion or eye goggles, to prevent any damage from a single tanning session from happening.
Tanners should also monitor their tanning schedule carefully and be sure to follow the set guidelines on the maximum amount of time allowed for tanning bed usage.