5 Myths About Protecting Yourself from Skin Cancer

Sara spends much of her summer near the beach. She lives in a

mild climate and is very athletic. She loves to swim, bike and

play games outdoors. Sara knows the dangers of the sun and so she

opts for tanning salons to get her ‘golden glow’ while being sure

to apply sunscreen every day before heading out.

Joseph lives in a cooler, northern climate. The summers can be

very humid, but most of the year is mild or even below freezing

during the harshest winter months. The beach has never been much

of a draw for him and he spends most of his time doing indoor

activities or at his job. Joseph doesn’t worry about sunscreen

and only had one sunburn that he can remember and that was when

he was a child.

——————–

Which of these examples do you most associate yourself with? Did

you know that Sara and Joseph are both at risk of developing skin

cancer? We have all heard the warnings about the dangers of sun

exposure. We know all about the importance of wearing sunscreen

and hats. But are YOU protected from skin cancer? Consider these

myths and facts:

MYTH ONE: Tanning Beds are Safer than the Sun

20 minutes of exposure in a tanning bed is roughly equivalent to

four hours in the sun. Although sun beds use UVA rather than UVB

rays, ‘The Skin Cancer Answer’ states that “UV-A penetrates more

deeply into the skin than UV-B, can cause skin cancer, and may

suppress the immune system.”

MYTH TWO: Wearing Sunscreen at the Beach is Protection

85 percent of UV rays can even make it through on cloudy days.

That means you are equally at risk in the car, walking the dog or

letting your children out to play at any time of year – even when

you’re not at the beach. Of course, you are usually less attired

at the beach and so covering up is recommended even when wearing

sunscreen. Sunscreen also wears off with sweat and water and

should always be applied every two hours or after getting wet.

MYTH THREE: Taking Care Of Your Skin Now Will Protect You

Sadly, skin cancer can take 20 or more years to develop. The Skin

Cancer Foundation states that most people receive about 80

percent of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18.

Just one blistering sunburn in childhood is estimated to double

the risk of melanoma later in life. Taking better care now will

reduce the risk, but not eliminate the damage already done.

MYTH FOUR: Having a Tan Means You’re More Protected

Dark skinned individuals are less likely to develop cancer, but

tanned skin is actually damaged skin. Repeated tanning injures

the skin and increases the risk of skin cancer.

MYTH FIVE: You Can’t get Burned on Overcast Days

Just because the sun is hidden by some cloud does not mean that

you don’t need protection from the harmful effects of the suns rays.

So how do you plan to protect your family this year? Some

suggestions are to limit exposure to the sun – especially for

infants. Examine your skin for early signs of damage. Use a

sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and apply it at least 30 minutes

before exposure and every two hours after that. Teach your

children good safety habits and be sure you and they are covered

up when outdoors. Have fun and be safe.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes

only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any

disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any

health care program.

Skin Cancer – Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

In the United States, Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) accounts for 90 percent of all skin cancers in the southern states, and 47 percent in the northern states. Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in Australia and New Zealand, representing 70-80% of diagnosed skin cancers. Occurrence of Basal Cell Carcinoma mainly occurs on the head and neck. It occurs less often in Asians and rarely among darker skinned races. As with all skin cancers the risk is considered to be related to sun exposure. The positive about Basal Cell Carcinoma is that it is slow-growing and rarely metastasizes throughout the body. However, it is locally destructive and can invade neighboring bone and nerve tissue.

Description – BCC is a malignant epithelial cell tumor that begins as a papule (a small, circumscribed, solid elevation of the skin) and enlarges peripherally, developing into a crater that erodes, crusts and bleeds. BCC originates in the basal layer of the epidermis, the lowest layer of skin.

Signs and Symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma – There are five typical characteristics of basal cell carcinoma that are quite different from each other. Two or more features are frequently present in one tumor. BCC sometimes resembles non-cancerous skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema and requires diagnosis by a trained person. The five warning signs of basal cell carcinoma are:

  1. An open sore that bleeds, oozes or crusts, and remains open for three or more weeks. A persistent, non-healing sore is a very common early manifestation.
  2. A reddish patch or an irritated area, frequently occurring on the chest, shoulders, arms or legs. Sometimes the patch crusts. It may also itch or hurt. At other times, it persists with no noticeable discomfort.
  3. A smooth growth with an elevated, rolled border and an indentation in the centre. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface (telangiectases).
  4. A shiny bump (nodule) that is pearly or translucent and is often pink, red or white. The nodule can also be tan, black or brown, especially in dark-haired people, and can be confused with a mole or melanoma.
  5. A scar-like area (white, yellow, or waxy in appearance) which often has poorly defined borders. The skin itself appears shiny or taut. Although a less frequent sign, it can indicate the presence of a more aggressive tumor.

Diagnosis of Basal Cell Carcinoma – Diagnosis is almost always by biopsy. Tissue is cut away from the site and examined under a microscope.

Medical Treatment of Basal Cell Carcinoma – Allopathic treatment depends on the size and type of tumor. There are various types of surgery or non-surgical treatments chosen from.

Non-surgical treatment of BCC – Allopathic non-surgical treatments have low success rates.

  • Topical application of 5-fluorouracil for 2 to 12 weeks is only beneficial for superficial BCC. Fluorouracil is used to prevent excess cell proliferation as found in skin cancer and psoriasis. It prevents the formation of RNA which in turn prevents the formation of DNA.
  • Imiquinoid cream -currently the use of Imiquinoid cream is considered experimental. It is an immune response modifier that stimulates the immune system to release cytokines that destroy cancer cells. Treatment causes significant skin irritation. Not all types of BCC are affected.
  • Ionizing radiation: Superficial x-ray. It results in radiation damage, therefore it is used more with older patients. Impaired immune function and general malaise also usually results. Used for facial BCC and appears less effective for BCC occurring elsewhere.

Surgical Removal of BCC – Surgery is the most studied, and most used treatment for removal of a BCC in allopathic medicine. The effectiveness of surgery depends very much on the skill of the surgeon. Various surgical methods:

  • Electrodessication and Curettage – the BCC is burned and removed with a scalpel. The main disadvantage of this method is that the tumor often tracks down hair follicles. (9)
  • Cryosurgery – liquid nitrogen to freeze burn the BCC.
  • Excision surgery- the BCC is cut from the skin with a scalpel. To increase the likelihood of complete removal of the tumor, a portion of normal-appearing skin surrounding the BCC is removed.
  • Microscopic or MOHS surgery – the BCC is cut from the skin, along with some of the healthy surrounding tissue. This is examined under a microscope to check for any remaining cancer cells. Tissue is then taken in increments of thin layers of skin, until no more cancer cells are detected. Mohs is the most effective allopathic medical treatment (99% cure rate for primary BCC, 90-95% for recurrent BCC).
  • Laser surgery. Lasers are also used as a secondary therapy when topical medications or other techniques are unsuccessful.

Recurrence of BCC – Once a basal cell carcinoma has been removed, another growth can develop in the same place or nearby area. It has been found that 36% of people who develop a basal cell carcinoma will develop a secondary primary BCC within the next 5 years. Radiotherapy can result in more aggressive and invasive cells in a recurrent BCC.

Effective Alternative Treatments – Allopathic medicine is often successful in completely removing BCC’s but obviously also often fails, given the high number of recurrences suffered by many people with repeat visits to the doctor and then specialist. These treatments don’t always work as well as expected or hoped.

But there are natural treatments that are worth trying and have proven to be safe and effective. You can read the full text of this article in the e-book entitled “How to Treat Skin Cancer Naturally”. The book includes descriptions of different types of Basal Cell Carcinoma as well as images and additional text. It covers other types of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) with helpful information on various methods and herbs such as bloodroot applications. Real cases of people who have successfully used these methods are included.

Skin Cancer Detection and Protection

Why get naked? Skin cancer, is one reason. That’s right, it’s important to regularly look your body over for detection. Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the U.S., with nearly one million new cases each year. Undiagnosed, it can cause serious problems.

Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the most common, but melanoma is the most deadly. Melanoma is responsible for over seven thousand deaths a year and the incidence is increasing rapidly. Melanoma is now the number one cancer in younger women and second only to breast cancer in women over the age of 30. White and fair skin people are at the greatest risk. However, skin cancer is deadlier among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians, even though their risk is less.

Most skin cancer is preventable. But it requires staying out of the sun as much as possible. If you’re going to be exposed, be certain to cover up. Wear a hat that shades your face and both the front and back of your neck, plus a long sleeve shirt and full length pants to cover arms and legs.

Also, use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply it throughout the day – especially after swimming or sweating. Be sure to get new sunscreen each year, because last year’s is no longer effective. And, definitely avoid tanning booths, since they’ve been shown to increase your risk.

A diet rich in carotenoid fruits and vegetables plus a high quality carotenoid supplement can also help protect against skin cancer. Carotenoids are the phytonutrient factors in certain plants that help protect them from sun damage. Luckily, it can do the same for you.

But, you still need to get naked. Take your clothes off and look yourself over for changes in skin. It’s an important habit for protecting yourself from skin cancer. And, always be sure to check out those hard to see places like your back, buttocks, bottom of feet and top of your head. Maybe a friend can help!