By: Keefe Figgatt
People refer to cancer as “The Big C”. While it may seem as though all forms of the disease fall under one main categorization, there are actually more than 100 ailments that may be considered to be “cancer”. Every type is different, but all are related to diseased cells in the body.
Healthy cells grow, divide and replace themselves on a continual basis. That’s how the body’s tissue is created, and it’s how a healthy body grows, repairs itself and stays in good health. Cancer occurs when some of these cells lose their ability to perform these tasks. The duplication, progress and growth capability of the cells is limited. The cells may divide themselves too rapidly, and may grow without organization. Malignant or benign tumors are formed when the cancerous cells produce too much tissue.
Benign tumors do not lead to cancer. They do not extend to the rest of the body and are not life threatening. These type of tumors are usually removed via surgery and usually do not return. They are often more of a nuisance than a threat.
Malignant tumors are those that can lead to cancer. These cancerous tumors cause further illness in the body by invading nearby organs and destroying healthy tissues. Malignant tumors can metastasize or spread to other organs, causing new tumors to grow throughout the body.
The two main kinds of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. A carcinoma is the term used to describe a cancer that begins in the cells that cover or surround an organ.
In the United States, basal cell carcinoma accounts for more than 90 percent of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly, and it rarely spreads to other areas. Regardless, it’s important that all types of skin cancer are found early and promptly treated, preventing them from invading and destroying nearby tissues.
Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are usually referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is another form of skin cancer which begins in the melanocytes.
The most common types of cancer in the United States are skin cancers. It’s estimated that 40 to 50 percent of people who live to be 65 or older in the United States will develop skin cancer at least once in their lifetime. Even so, people of all ages and every nationality are at risk of developing skin cancer. People with blue or light colored eyes, those with freckles or fair skin, and people with blond or red hair present a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
The sun’s UV (ultraviolet) radiation is the most common cause of skin cancer. The sun creates two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. Tanning booths and sun beds create artificial UV radiation, and will also cause skin cancer.
The location where a person lives plays a role in the risks of developing skin cancer. People live in areas where they are exposed to high levels of UV radiation and are more likely to develop skin cancer. For example, the Texas sun is especially strong. There are also high rates of skin cancer found in South Africa and Australia where the populations get excessive amounts of the sun’s radiation.
Writer Keefe Figgatt works for several well-known web sites, on health products and natural product issues.
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