Monday, May 20, 2013

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Linked to Risk for Other Cancers

Did you know May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month? Although most of the focus will be on melanoma awareness, there are other types of skin cancer that are equally as important. In fact, one study shows that non-melanoma skin cancer may be an indication for other types of cancer.

According to the study, white people with non-melanoma skin cancer may be at greater risk for developing other forms of cancer. The researchers found that individuals with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) had a 26 percent greater risk of eventually having another type of cancer than people with no history of cancer, while patients with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) had a 15 percent greater risk.

This could be particularly big news for women, who were found to be at greater risk than men. When considering only non-melanoma skin cancers, researchers found women with skin cancer had a 20 percent higher risk for other types of cancer, while men had an 11 percent greater risk. Specifically, the study showed women with non-melanoma skin cancer were at greater risk for melanoma, breast and lung cancers.

The study, led by Dr. Jiali Han, an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined two large U.S. studies involving more than 51,000 male health professionals and nearly 122,000 female nurses. Among white participants, researchers identified more than 36,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and more than 29,000 new cases of other forms of cancer.

Although melanoma is more deadly, BCC and SCC are the most common types of skin cancer. BCCs are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise on the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), while SCCs are uncontrolled growths that arise in the squamous cells (the upper layers of skin). Both are similar in appearance – often looking like open sores, red patches, shiny bumps, pink growths or scars – and may crust or bleed.

So how can you prevent BCC and SCC? By protecting your skin from the sun! Always wear a sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater when you’re going to be outside, and try to avoid prolonged time in the sun during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are most intense. Remember that UV rays can pass through clouds and windows, so don’t ignore sun protection on a cloudy day or when you’re driving in the car. Although you can’t undo sun damage, you can prevent additional damage and reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.

To speak with a dermatologist or a member of our talented staff, call Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872.

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