Seniors and Skin Cancer

By: Jody Smith

The young people of any era are destined to be the seniors of a future time. Even though no young people believe this can ever happen, it has ever been thus and will always be so. 

Dr. Oz's  website hearkened back to the 1970s and the sunbathing craze of that time. People that are now seniors were just the right age during that period for spending hours in the sun to get the deepest darkest tan possible. 

Though many of these people have changed their minds and habits regarding baking in the sun, sun damage from thirty or so years ago does not care, and is now making itself known in the form of skin cancer.

Seniors are prone to age spots and wrinkles. These developments are a natural part of aging. But other changes that may appear are moles that alter in color, shape, or size.

If a flat mole becomes raised, if the edges change to become ragged, or if skin patches become bloody, itchy or scaly, or if areas should ooze, a health care professional should be consulted.

Skin cancers are abnormal skin cells that are growing out of control and at a rapid rate. Damage to the DNA in skin cells causes skin cells to mutate, and to create tumors that are malignant. These malignant tumors are dangerous when they spread to other tissue, and to organs in the body.

Skin cancer is the leading form of cancer. Skin cancer attacks more people than breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers put together. Skin cancer will affect one out of every five Americans.

Getting a diagnosis early offers the best survival rate. If your doctor thinks you may have skin cancer, a biopsy is the next step.

An incision biopsy removes a small portion of what may possibly be cancerous growth. An excision biopsy removes the growth, which may also remove the entire cancer.

Melanoma affects almost 70,000 people in the United States every year. Melanoma is a skin cancer that has its origins in melanocytes, which are skin cells that produce pigment.

Basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer affect more than 2 million people combined. Basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer appear on arms, face, hands, heads and neck. They are not as dangerous as melanoma but they appear more often.

Basal cell cancer shows up in the lower part of the epidermis. This is the outer skin layer. Squamous cell cancer originates in the squamous cells, which are flat cells that make up the skin's surface.

If you are older than 50 years of age your risk level for skin cancer increases. If you have fair skin, with light hair and eye color, or have a family history that includes skin cancer you are at an even higher risk.




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