Get answers to your Melanoma questions.
Skin cancer; Squamous cell cancer; Basal cell cancer; Actinic keratosis; Nonmelanoma skin cancer
The sun is the most important cause of prematurely aging skin (called photoaging) and skin cancers.
Long-term, repeated exposure to sunlight appears to be responsible for most undesirable consequences of aging skin, including basal cell and squamous cell cancers.
Melanoma is more likely to be caused by intense exposure to sunlight in early life.
UVA and UVB Radiation. When sunlight penetrates the top layers of the skin, ultraviolet (UVA or UVB) radiation strikes the DNA inside the skin cells and damages it.
Damaging Effects of UV Radiation. Both UVA and UVB rays cause damage, including genetic injury, wrinkles, lower immunity against infection, aging skin disorders, and cancer, although the mechanisms are not yet fully clear. The following are some ways in which cancer may develop, and some actions the skin uses to defend itself against DNA damage.
Defective Cell Death (Apoptosis). Apoptosis is the last defense of the immune system. It is a natural process of cell-suicide, which occurs when cells are very severely damaged. Apoptosis in the skin kills off cells harmed by UVA so that they do not turn cancerous. The peeling after sunburn is the result of these dead skin cells. However, some gene defects or other factors can interfere with apoptosis. If this occurs, damaged cells can continue to spread, resulting in skin cancer.
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