According to Cancer.org, in the United States, more skin cancers are diagnosed than all other known cancers combined. Most of these skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet rays (UV). Having lived the longest and accumulating much exposure to the sun, seniors are more prone to skin cancers. There are three types of skin cancer namely Melanoma, Basal, and Squamous. While Basal and Squamous are less threatening and more common, Melanoma is more dangerous and is not as common. In a report published by Skincancer.org, it reveals that white men in the age group of 55 and above make up the biggest part of skin cancers specifically, Melanoma diagnoses.
Understanding the Disease
For the past 30 years, the rates of Melanoma have been increasing according to the American Cancer Society. The community-based voluntary health organization estimates that for 2018 there will be about 91,270 new cases of Melanoma. Of these new cases, 55,150 are men and 36,120 are women. ACS estimates that about 5,990 men and 3,330 women or 9,320 people are expected to die from this disease. As people age, the risk of acquiring melanoma increases. Unfortunately, the average age of people when it is detected is 63. Since the detection usually happens during the senior years, family caregivers of seniors should always be mindful of preventions, symptoms, and risks of this disease.
Melanoma is known as one of the most serious kinds of skin cancers. It starts in the skin cells called Melanocytes. These cells are responsible for creating Melanin—a skin pigment gives color to the skin. Melanin is essential in protecting the skin from the destructive rays of the sun. When a person is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes produce more Melanin. However, when cancer grows, melanocytes function erratically creating a tumor. Most often Melanomas appear black or brown because the melanocytes produce melanin. However, there are cases when they appear pink or white.
Skin Cancer Prevention
There is no definite way to prevent Melanoma and other skin cancers. Risk factors like family history, age, gender, and race cannot be controlled. However, there are things that could be done in order to lower the risk of acquiring these diseases. This includes limiting exposure from the harmful UV rays. When outdoors, it is best to practice sun safety. One of the best ways to limit exposure to UV is by staying in the shade.
It is also helpful if tanning beds and sun lamps should be avoided. Tanning lamps emit ultraviolet rays, which can cause long-term skin damage and could trigger skin cancers. The use of tanning beds has been associated with increased Melanoma risk. Skin doctors and health organizations do not recommend the use of tanning beds and lamps. In addition, regularly checking the skin could help in preventing skin cancers. This could aid in spotting any new or irregular moles or other progressions. There are certain types of moles that are more likely to advance into Melanoma.
Older adults are more susceptible to skin cancers because of many factors. Exposure to carcinogens over time and decline in immune function are just some of these. Seniors and caregivers rendering senior care should be attentive in checking for the symptoms and signs of skin cancer. Options for Senior Living could be a good choice for people seeking for communities, facilities, or services for their aging loved ones. The team offers free consultation and guidance to help find the best care available.