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What exactly is skin cancer ?

Basal cell carcinoma is a common skin cancer that affects the bottom of the epidermis (the basal cells).  It accounts for over 75% of cases of skin cancer reported in the UK. BCCs are extremely slow growing and very rarely spread to other areas of the body.  They often present as a shiny red nodule or spots, small in size that may bleed from time to time.  Often the skin over the top of the spot remains intact for a number of months.  They may eventually develop into an obvious ulcer that will not heal.

If the BCC is caught at an early stage, the prognosis is excellent and most will be completely cured.  Rarely though, the condition can be more aggressive and if left untreated they may spread deeper in the skin’s layers.

The second most common skin cancer (accounting for one out of every five cases of skin cancer in the UK) is squamous cell carcinoma, abbreviated as SCC.  This is a cancer of the keratinocytes (the cells found in the epidermis – the top layer of skin).  Most squamous cell carcinomas are relatively slow-growing.  They generally only spread if they are left untreated for a significant length of time.  In rare cases they may present more aggressively and spread quickly.  However, the majority of patients treated for SCC have an excellent prognosis.

Malignant melanoma is rare skin cancer.  It occurs when some skin cells begin to behave an abnormally.  It can spread to other organs in the body and requires prompt and thorough treatment.  Many cases present as a new or existing mole that has altered in appearance.  Most are irregular in both shape and colour.  In some cases the mole may bleed.

They may occur on any area of skin, but will often be on the legs, arms, face and back.   Risk factors include having fair skin, red hair, a tendency to moles and a family history of the condition.  If the cancer is caught early, chances of successful treatment, by surgery, are good.

The best way of preventing skin cancer is to protect your skin from UV light.  Always use a high factor, broad spectrum sunscreen.  Most people do use enough product, but fail to re-apply it frequently enough.  It is vital to thoroughly cover all areas of exposed skin, particularly if you have a fair complexion.

Applying sun lotion on the back can be awkward, but with a BackBliss sun tan lotion applicator the process is quick, simple and – vitally – will protect this vulnerable area.  Come and find us on Facebook to keep in touch with news and offers.