The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


May 12, 2014

Deadly skin cancers on the rise

Sunless tanning offers safe alternative

ANDERSON — Skin cancer is deadly, especially for those who spend long hours in the sun either by choice or by profession.

Dr. Jennifer Zook, a board-certified radiation oncologist at Community Hospital Anderson, said that this year it is estimated that 9,710 people will die from melanoma skin cancer.

Zook has extensive experience treating a variety of different skin cancers with radiation therapy. She said basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma are the three main types of skin cancers.

A deadly growth

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. Zook said approximately 70 percent of this type of cancer is found on the face and can appear as a light red to pink lesion with a shiny appearance.

She said the incidence of this cancer increases with age and the major risk factor is ultraviolet (UV) light exposure.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer, and risk factors include UV light, older age, skin type and ethnicity, Zook said.

Melanoma, which is the least common form of skin cancer, is also the most deadly.

Zook said the incidence of this fatal form of skin cancer is increasing at a rapid rate. Risk factors include a family history of the cancer, sun or UV exposure, and hereditary traits such as light skin, having red or blond hair color, high-density freckling and light eye color.

A closer look

“You can screen yourself by using the A,B,C,D,Es of melanoma,” Zook said.

The A, B, C, D, Es look at asymmetry, border irregularities, color variegation (different colors within a same region), diameter greater than 6 millimeters, enlargement or evolution of color change, shape or symptoms, she said.

While early detection of a skin cancer can save lives, Zook said, prevention of skin cancer is important.

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