Skin Cancer - The most common cancer worldwide

Methods of protection, its detection, and resultant affects upon the body

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide, affecting millions of people each year. The disease develops when skin cells grow uncontrollably due to mutations in their DNA. While many factors contribute to the development of skin cancer, the primary culprit is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Understanding the development, seriousness, and prevention of skin cancer is crucial for reducing its incidence and improving public health.

How Skin Cancer Develops
Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, which is made up of three types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. These cells can mutate and multiply abnormally due to damage from UV radiation. 

The three main types of skin cancer are:

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):Originates in the basal cells, which are responsible for producing new skin cells as old ones die off.

Often appears as a pearly or waxy bump, a flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion, or a bleeding sore.

It is the most common but least deadly form of skin cancer, rarely spreading to other parts of the body.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):

Develops in the squamous cells, which make up most of the epidermis.

Typically appears as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface.

More likely than BCC to invade deeper layers of skin and spread to other areas of the body.


Arises from melanocytes, the cells responsible for pigment production in the skin.

Can develop anywhere on the body, often appearing as a large brownish spot with darker speckles or a mole that changes in color, size, or feel.

Though less common than BCC and SCC, melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer due to its tendency to spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body if not caught early.

The Seriousness of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a significant public health issue, with its incidence rising steadily over the past several decades. Here are some key points highlighting its seriousness:

High Prevalence: Skin cancer accounts for more cases than all other cancers combined. Millions of cases are diagnosed each year globally.

Rising Incidence: The incidence of skin cancer has been increasing, particularly among younger populations and in regions with high UV exposure.

Morbidity and Mortality: While non-melanoma skin cancers (BCC and SCC) rarely lead to death, they can cause significant morbidity, including disfigurement and functional impairments. Melanoma, however, is highly aggressive and can be fatal if not detected early.

Economic Burden: The treatment of skin cancer imposes a substantial economic burden on healthcare systems due to the high costs associated with medical care, surgery, and ongoing surveillance.

Best Ways to Protect the Skin Against Skin Cancer

Preventing skin cancer involves a combination of lifestyle changes, regular skin examinations, and public health measures. Here are some of the most effective strategies:

Limit Sun Exposure: 

Avoid being in the sun during peak UV radiation hours, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Seek shade whenever possible, especially during midday hours.

Use Sunscreen:

Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed skin, even on cloudy days.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.

Wear Protective Clothing:

Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats to cover as much skin as possible.

Use sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays to protect your eyes and the surrounding skin.

Avoid Tanning Beds:

Tanning beds emit UV radiation that can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Avoiding them can significantly reduce your risk.

Regular Skin Examinations:

Perform monthly self-examinations to check for new or changing moles, freckles, or spots.

Visit a dermatologist annually for a professional skin examination, especially if you have a history of skin cancer or a family history of the disease.

Educate and Advocate:

Increase public awareness about the dangers of UV exposure and the importance of skin protection through community programs and campaigns.

Advocate for policies that promote skin cancer prevention, such as banning indoor tanning for minors and implementing UV index alerts.

Skin cancer is a prevalent and serious health issue that requires concerted efforts for prevention and early detection. By understanding how skin cancer develops, recognizing its impact, and adopting protective measures, individuals can significantly reduce their risk and contribute to the overall effort to combat this disease. 

Regular skin examinations, combined with sun safety practices, are essential components of a comprehensive strategy to protect the skin and maintain overall health.