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What Causes Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer affects millions of Americans each year, but despite this, it can be successfully treated when caught early.  It’s therefore important to understand what causes skin cancer, and how best to protect against it.

Understanding Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells.    Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma are the main types of skin cancer.  BCC and SCC are more common, but melanoma is considered very dangerous because it tends to quickly spread to other organs.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

The primary cause of skin cancer is chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays either from the sun or from tanning beds.   Overexposure to UV light can damage the DNA of the skin cells and cause mutations that lead to the development of skin cancer.

The changes to the DNA affect the genes in the body, specifically the oncogenes which help cells grow and divide, and tumor suppressor genes that slow down cell division.   DNA changes can keep oncogenes turned on and turn off tumor suppressor genes, resulting in the rapid multiplication of the abnormal skin cells.    

BCC, SCC, and melanoma originate from cells in the epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin (learn more). 

Tips To Reduce Your Risk Of Skin Cancer

  • Wear sunscreen when going outside, and always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher
  • Limit sun exposure, especially during the hours of 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is usually the strongest
  • Avoid tanning booths and beds
  • If you plan to be outdoors for a long time, wear protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.

Would you like to learn more about the causes of skin cancer?  Search our directory to find a practice in your area.

If you are in the Sierra Vista AZ area, Cochise Oncology, is our featured practice.

You can reach them at www.cochiseoncology.com, or by calling 520-803-6644.

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