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What Is Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer?

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Is on the Rise

In case you haven't heard it enough, you need to wear sunscreen every day. Need more proof? Recent studies published in the Archives of Dermatology have concluded that more and more people are being diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. In fact, treatments for this form of cancer have increased by about 77 percent between the years 1992-2006, making it the most common type of cancer. And scarily enough, it affects the population more than all other cancers put together.

What is non-melanoma skin cancer, anyway? Non-melanoma skin cancer involves the way either basal cell or squamous cells grow, and while both are rarely fatal and usually treatable, the latter can metastasize. "This is only going to get worse," dermatologist Dr. Suephy Chen told Business Week. "Our population is aging. Those people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s when there was not a big sun-protection message out there are now coming into their 50s and 60s and are starting to develop skin cancers."

Most non-melanoma skin cancers grow on areas of the body such as the neck, backs of hands, ears, shoulders, and face — all the places where sun exposure is most prevalent. Fortunately, it isn't that hard to protect yourself. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen, don't hit up tanning beds, and stay out of the sun from around 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during its most intense hours.

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