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Skin cancer has long been considered a silent killer, of sorts. An affected area can start off with very little visual indication, increasing in mass ever so gradually over time. Before a victim realizes how grave a situation they are in, it may be too late. Now, as if that wasn’t enough to worry about on it’s own, new studies are pointing to even more scary facts regarding this widespread type of cancer. It seems those who survive the deadly affliction, even at a young age, may be more likely to suffer again. The statistics are now showing that an initial incidence of skin cancer causes other types of cancers to crop up later in life.
In a sense, because the skin is the largest organ in the body, it stands to reason that it has a huge risk of incurring some type of cancer – particularly due to its often direct contact with the sun’s deadly UV rays, which have long been known to have damaging affects over time. Skin cancer, the most common form of cancer, has two basic categories. First, there is the ultra-dreaded melanoma, which impacts deeper in the skin, and is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths. Although, if caught early enough, melanoma can be easily cured, especially in today’s world of modern medicine. Melanoma can be caused by sun exposure, but that is not always the case. For example, genetics are always a factor for any potential type of cancer.
Then, there is the much more common non-melanoma skin cancer. This type of skin cancer affects roughly 3.5 million people in the United States each year, and lies much higher on the surface of the skin. Often times this type of cancer does afflict sun exposed areas such as the face, neck, lips and ears. It is not considered to be as deadly as melanoma and just as easily treatable if caught early enough. However, recent studies that looked at thousands of non-melanoma survivors indicate that this type of skin cancer is potentially likely to cause other cancers down the line.
A recent study, published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal, took in data of over 500,000 patients treated for non-melanoma skin cancer. These subjects were followed over the course of about 5 years to determine any long lasting health affects. The results were compared to the overall health statistics of about 8.7 million people who had never suffered non-melanoma skin cancer. As it turns out, those who had been afflicted with the deadly disease were 1.36 times more likely to develop another form of cancer within the aforementioned timeline of study.
Furthermore, the younger the non-melanoma cancer victim, the higher the rate may be of some type of cancer returning. The study found that there were roughly 30 different cancers likely to show up in non-melanoma cancer survivors. These include: melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, and cancers of the colon, liver, lungs, brain, stomach, prostate, and pancreas. So, what can one do to decrease risk of non-melanoma cancer and the recurrence of other types of cancer?
Researchers point out that there is always a genetic factor when it comes to cancer, in which case there is almost no control over whether or not someone may develop the disease. However, with these new findings that skin cancer can cause other types of cancers later in life, there are a few things to bear in mind. Of course, limiting sun exposure through use of sunscreen, clothing, or simply staying away from places like the beach are all clichéd, yet helpful hints on prevention of skin cancer. However, if one becomes a survivor of non-melanoma cancer, they should stay healthy through exercise and diet. Not only could a healthy lifestyle stave off illness, if there is a return of cancer down the line it will help any victim to be in good shape while battling the potentially deadly disease.