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Skin Cancer Basics

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Sun Damage

Each time your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays, changes take place in the structure of your skin’s cells. Continuous exposure causes the skin to become permanently damaged, and also affects the immune systems ability to identify and get rid of any abnormal or cancerous skin cells. Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of all cancers in the U.S. UV radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer, but UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. In addition, exposure to sunlight during the winter months also puts you at risk.

There are four types of skin cancer, including precancerous actinic keratosis or solar keratosis, and melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Melanoma
  • Actinic Keratosis or Solar Keratosis- Common Pre-Cancerous lesion

Melanoma Did you know that according to a recent report released by the CDC, the incidence of melanoma has doubled since the 1980’s? Melanoma is made up of abnormal skin pigment cells called melanocytes which produce melanin. It is the most serious from of skin cancer and causes 75% of skin cancer deaths. Severe sunburns, usually before the age of 18, can cause melanoma later in life so it is crucial to start protecting your kids early on.

It is important to know that “early detection” is the key to preventing and treating skin cancers. An annual total body exam (TBE) is recommended with your dermatologist, especially if you notice sun or age spots. Consider an exam once yearly, perhaps on your birthday! For further information about detecting the signs of skin cancer, known as the ABCD’s (Asymmetry, Border, Color and Diameter), go to

About the Author:

Dr. Sunanda Chugh is the Founder and Medical Director of Anand Medical Spa and has been practicing in NYC since 2004. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has completed her training at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital/Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Chugh has worked and trained with top Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in NYC. Her special interest on the effect of the aging process on the face and body inspired her to specialize in Aesthetic Medicine.

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