Is Skin Cancer Disease rising in the world? Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment

February 16, 2024 Cancer Hub 31 Views


Is Skin Cancer Disease rising in the world?

Skin cancer disease rates have been increasing globally over the past few decades. Factors contributing to this rise include increased UV exposure due to lifestyle changes, depletion of the ozone layer, tanning bed usage, and perhaps most significantly, greater awareness and diagnosis of skin cancer. 

Early detection and improved reporting mechanisms also contribute to the apparent rise in skin cancer disease cases worldwide. Practice sun safety measures such as using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding excessive sun exposure to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Regular skin examinations by a healthcare professional are also recommended for early detection and treatment.

Which countries are more prone to skin cancer?

Countries with higher levels of UV radiation exposure, lighter-skinned populations, and cultural practices that involve significant sun exposure are generally more prone to skin cancer disease. 

Some countries with high rates of skin cancer include:

  • Australia: Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, mainly due to its location near the ozone hole, outdoor lifestyle, and fair-skinned population.
  • New Zealand: Similar to Australia, New Zealand also has high levels of UV radiation exposure and a predominantly fair-skinned population.
  • United States: Particularly in regions with high levels of sunshine such as California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, skin cancer rates are notable.
  • Northern and Western Europe: Countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany have higher rates of skin cancer due to fair-skinned populations and recreational outdoor activities during sunny seasons.
  • South Africa: South Africa has high rates of skin cancer, especially among individuals with fair skin types, due to the country’s climate and outdoor lifestyle.

These are just a few examples, but skin cancer disease can occur anywhere in the world where there is exposure to UV radiation and a lack of sun protection practices. ( Know more about- What is Skin Cancer Treatment ? )

Types, Causes and Risk factors for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer disease encompasses several types, each with its own causes and risk factors:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):
      • Causes: Exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the primary cause.
      • Risk Factors: Fair skin, history of sunburns, outdoor occupation or recreational habits, exposure to arsenic, radiation therapy, weakened immune system.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):
      • Causes: Prolonged exposure to UV radiation, often from the sun, but also from tanning beds.
      • Risk Factors: Fair skin, cumulative sun exposure, history of severe sunburns, exposure to carcinogens like arsenic, weakened immune system.
  • Melanoma:
      • Causes: UV radiation exposure is the primary cause, but genetic factors can also play a role.
      • Risk Factors: Fair skin, history of sunburns, excessive sun exposure, presence of numerous moles or atypical moles, family history of melanoma, weakened immune system, previous history of melanoma or other skin cancers.
  • Other less common types:
    • Other types of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, Kaposi sarcoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma. These cancers often have specific risk factors related to their causes and origins.

General Risk Factors for Skin Cancer Disease:

  • Fair Skin: People with fair skin, light hair, and light-colored eyes are at higher risk due to lower levels of melanin.
  • Excessive Sun Exposure: Spending long periods in the sun without protection increases the risk.
  • History of Sunburns: Having a history of severe sunburns, especially during childhood, increases the risk.
  • Tanning Beds: Use of tanning beds and lamps increases the risk of all types of skin cancer.
  • Family History: Having a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma, increases the risk.
  • Personal History: Previous history of skin cancer increases the risk of developing another skin cancer.
  • Weakened Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or organ transplant recipients, have an increased risk.
  • Exposure to Carcinogens: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as arsenic, coal tar, and certain types of industrial chemicals, can increase the risk of skin cancer.

How is Skin Cancer diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis of Skin Cancer Disease:

  • Physical Examination: A healthcare provider examines the skin for any suspicious lesions, moles, or changes in existing moles.
  • Dermoscopy: A dermatoscope, a handheld instrument with a magnifying lens and light source, is used to examine skin lesions more closely.
  • Skin Biopsy: If a lesion appears suspicious, a biopsy may be performed. During a biopsy, a sample of the skin tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.
  • Imaging Tests: In cases where skin cancer has spread, imaging tests such as CT scans, MRI scans, or PET scans may be used to determine the extent of the cancer.

Treatment of Skin Cancer Disease:

  • Surgery:
    • Excisional Surgery: The cancerous tissue is surgically removed along with a margin of healthy tissue.
    • Mohs Surgery: This technique involves removing thin layers of skin one at a time and examining them under a microscope until no cancer cells are detected.
    • Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy cancerous tissue.
  • Radiation Therapy: High-energy radiation is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It is often used for tumors in areas where surgery is difficult or for treating cancers that have spread.
  • Chemotherapy: Medications are used to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Chemotherapy is typically used for advanced or metastatic skin cancer.
  • Immunotherapy: These drugs help the body’s immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy has shown promising results in treating advanced melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Drugs that target specific mutations or proteins in cancer cells are used to block the growth and spread of cancer. Targeted therapy is often used for advanced melanoma and certain types of non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): A photosensitizing agent is applied to the skin, which is then activated by a specific type of light to destroy cancer cells.

The choice of treatment depends on the type and stage of skin cancer disease, as well as the patient’s overall health and preferences. Early detection and treatment offer the best chance of cure for most types of skin cancer. 

Regular skin examinations and sun protection are essential for preventing skin cancer and detecting it at an early stage. Get best treatment for skin cancer disease, early detection with full body health checkup at the best hospitals in India. 

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