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Skin Cancer And Tanning Essay

3723 words - 15 pages


The idea of a “healthy tan” is a myth which must be corrected in order to reduce the increasing incidence of skin cancer in the world.
An individual's skin color is determined by their genes and their environment. Our skin can change color in reaction to sun exposure. This is called the "tanning response." When skin absorbs UV radiation, melanin is produced and transferred to the keratinocytes cells within the skin thereby darkening the color of the skin. Melanin in the skin absorbs and scatters UV radiation entering the body and helps protect the skin from adverse reactions to radiation. Thus, the "tanning response" is really a defensive reaction by the body to ...view middle of the document...

By all measures, the most common cancer is skin cancer, including melanoma and nonmelanoma (“Common”).
Nonmelanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases diagnosed annually, is by far the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States. In fact, the combination of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers represent approximately one half of the whole range of all types of cancer diagnosed in the United States each year (“Common”). Of those people diagnosed with skin cancer each year, the National cancer Institute estimates that approximately 10,200 people will die. Of that number, approximately 8,100 will die from melanoma (“Common”). This represents over 20 people each and every day or about 1 per hour.
The number of cases of melanoma in the United States is on the rise. The incidence of melanoma has increased in recent years more than that of any other cancer in the United States. In 1960, one in 1,500 Americans was expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime. In the year 2001, that number was approximately one in 70 (Goldstein and Goldstein 1359) and in 2007 that number is one in 59 – approximately one in 49 for men and one in 73 for women (“2007”) Melanoma is now more common than any non-skin cancer among people between the ages of 25 and 29 years old.(“Burden”) Melanoma is primarily a disease of whites; rates are more than 10 times higher in whites than in African Americans and 7 times higher than in Hispanics (Goldstein and Goldstein 1360).
Skin cancer refers to the uncontrolled growth of skin cells. It develops when the DNA (the molecule found in cells that encodes genetic information) in skin cells is damaged or mutated in ways that the body cannot repair causing the damaged cells to proliferate in an abnormal manner. This proliferation results in a mass of malignant tissue called a tumor or lesion (Wright and Frey 1864)
The skin has two main layers - the outer layer called the epidermis and the inner layer called the dermis (“Skin”).
The outer layer of the skin contains three kinds of cells. Most of the cells are squamous cells which are flat, unpigmented, scaly skin cells located in the middle of the epidermis. Cells near the bottom of the epidermis, under the squamous cells, are called basal keratinocyte cells. These cells are round cells. The remaining cells within the outer layer of the skin are called melanocytes. These cells produce a brown pigment called melanin which gives the skin its color (“Skin”).
Each of the three types of cells can become cancerous. As a result, there are 3 types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and malignant melanoma (Wright and Frey 1864). Skin cancer is often classified as either melanoma or nonmelanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are considered nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. It is a skin cancer that originates from basal...

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