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What Is Skin Cancer and Tips That Can Help Prevent It

The term cancer encompasses a disease that is characterized by abnormal growth in the cells of the body. When the cancer originates in the skin, it is called skin cancer.

It is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States, because it can develop in any type of person due to its risk factors such as exposure to ultraviolet rays or tanning beds.

Its appearance is external and is represented in the form of “spots” or abnormal moles, so an early detection is essential to avoid its more advanced phases.

Which population is most likely to suffer from this condition?

Approximately 1 in 5 people may develop skin cancer at some point in their lives.

Certain features help the disease to develop more easily. For example:

  • Have fair skin or be Caucasian

  • Be blond or red-haired

  • Family history of skin cancer

  • Having more than 50 moles on the body

  • Weakened immune system

Types of skin cancer

There are other types of skin cancer, however these are the most frequent observed:

Basal cell carcinoma

This type of cancer can develop in the form of transparent lumps or sores in areas where there is more sun exposure, such as the head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma begins from a strong exposure to sunlight, so it is recommended to have a sun protection routine in very exposed areas such as face, scalp, chest, neck and back.

Squamous-cell carcinoma

It is observed in patients from the age of 50 with a history of sun exposure, it consists in the appearance of a malignant lump that can spread to the lymph nodes and metastasize to other organs.


Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and develops from a problem with the melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) responsible for giving color and protecting the skin. It accounts for 80% of deaths from skin cancer and its symptoms are the appearance of moles or a change in an existing mole. Its origin is still unknown, although a risk factor may be sun exposure, light-complexioned races.

Moles that may represent the presence of a melanoma

Ideally, every 6 months we do a self-examination of our skin paying attention to 5 basic characteristics, known as the ABCDE of melanomas:

Asymmetry: Look for moles with irregular shape or edges.

Edges: they must be clean and well defined to be considered normal.

Color: they must be only 1 color, if there are color changes or more than two colors, revision may be necessary.

Diameter: usually measure about 6 millimeters.

Evolution over time: sudden changes in size or color.

When to consult with a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any skin changes that seem unusual.

If you notice any type of unusual spots on your body, go to your doctor and perform periodic evaluations to detect skin abnormalities.

How to reduce the risk of skin cancer

  • Wear caps or long-sleeved shirts when exposed to the outdoors. Sunglasses are also recommended.

  • Repeated applications of creams should not encourage prolonged exposure, or to perform it at the most dangerous hours despite their use.

  • Self-examination, including with photographs of moles.

  • Sun exposure to babies should be avoided, even with sun creams.

  • Use sunscreen when doing any outdoor sports.

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