Skin Cancer is the most common cancer now in the United States, with over one million new cases diagnosed each year. Unlike other illnesses you can develop while traveling, the choices you make which help skin cancer grow on your body will not affect you for many years and more probably, not for decades. Skin cancer is due to damage at the cellular level caused by UV radiation and whether the source is direct exposure to the sun or the use of sunlamps, tanning beds/booths, all sources emit UV rays. The use of tanning beds and/or booths should be given serious consideration, before climbing in, as they are rarely calibrated correctly - giving off much higher levels of UV radiation than regulations allow.
Any kind of tan or sunburn is cellular damage by UV radiation. Yes, your skin will heal afterwards but that damage is cumulative and lasts for the rest of your life. Imagine every tan, or much worse - sunburn, as being hit by a baseball bat lightly. At first it does very little damage but over time it can kill you. Though most skin cancers are shown to be slow growing and usually do not begin to appear until after the age of 50, this is quickly changing. Women under the age of 40 are now the fastest rising group to be diagnosed with basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. (See descriptions below.)
*Currently, the minimum recommendation for a sunscreen factor is SPF 15 and is based on "general public average exposure". This does not take into account those with greater exposure times such as travelers and outdoor workers. Also, most sunscreens provide protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays though there are no international standards for labeling the degree of UV-A blocking ability. (All SPF labeling is based on UV-B blocking ability only.)
There is no vaccination for skin cancer, although if the proper care is taken most people can avoid skin cancer.
The main symptoms are scabs of unknown origin, unusual changes in skin texture, discoloration, ulcers of the skin that never heal and changes in preexisting moles. The three most common skin cancers are:
Most treatment methods involve removing the tumor from your skin by various methods which include cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), incised surgery, topical chemotherapy and focal radiation therapy. If found and removed quickly the risk for death is very low. Remember that UV radiation damage is cumulative so therefore it is very possible that another tumor can grow on or near the same spot of previous tumors and many skin cancer victims return for treatment every year in order to remove new tumors.
We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Skin Cancer
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