The most common type of cancer is skin cancer. It can affect anyone, but what causes skin cancer to develop? UV exposure or ultraviolet radiation, toxic buildup in the body, and ignoring the early symptoms can all lead to a carcinoma diagnosis or other risk factors. Learn more about the main causes, how to reduce your risk, and alternative treatments for skin cancer to consider.
Excessive UV Exposure
Spending time outdoors is good for overall health, but extended time in the sun without skin protection can be harmful. Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the leading cause of skin cancer, and one which can be easily avoided. The first thing to do is practice sun safety year-round. UV rays can damage your skin cell even on cloudy days. Plus, they reflect off surfaces, including snow, so it’s best to wear sunscreen whenever you head outside, regardless of the weather.
Additionally, when the UV index exceeds three or higher, it’s important to cover the arms and legs, wear a hat and sunglasses, and stay in the shade as much as possible. Protecting large areas of the body is necessary when the sun is at its highest peak. Though it might feel nice to soak up the rays, these can be harmful to your skin and be the start of developing cancerous cells.
And it’s not only protection from the sun that’s necessary. Artificial UV sources like indoor tanning beds may also lead to different types of skin cancer, invoking accidental burns and skin damage. Skip this type of exposure altogether and make sure you’re covered whenever you head outside.
Sun exposure is a well-known cause, but what are the causes of skin cancer as it pertains to daily life? An unhealthy lifestyle weakens the immune system and allows a buildup of toxins in the body. This combination can be extremely damaging and eventually lead to the spread of cancerous cells. When your body’s natural ability to fight off disease is negatively affected, it allows this to occur more readily.
Toxins are found in everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Though it’s not possible to avoid them altogether, reducing exposure can help. Following a healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet that’s heavy in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and plenty of water helps to eliminate toxins from the body and give the immune system the boost it needs.
Ignoring Early Symptoms
Once you spot abnormalities in the skin, it’s best to have them checked out right away. In some cases, surface growths may be benign but could quickly turn into skin cancer if not treated properly. Look for changes in skin color and texture. Extreme redness, lesions, and open sores are common symptoms of skin cancer.
Additionally, changes to moles on the skin are another indicator of skin cancer. Monitor color, size, and irregularity of moles and anything else regarding the skin. Schedule time with a medical professional if you notice any significant or prolonged changes.
Skin Cancer Types
Skin cancer causes are fairly straightforward, as are the types of skin cancer. The majority of skin cancer diagnoses break down into two categories: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. There are similar signs and symptoms of each, though not everyone will experience it exactly the same. It’s important to know the basics of what each entails and the common causes.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
An estimated 80% of skin cancers fall into the basal cell carcinoma category. It develops in the inner layer of the skin, triggering mass, uncontrolled growth of the basal cells. The primary cause of this type of cancer is excessive exposure of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Though this is typically through prolonged time spent outdoors sans sun protection, exposure can also come from artificial sources like tanning beds and heat lamps.
UV rays are damaging to the skin even when the sun is not out. Therefore, people are exposed to the risk of skin cancer year-round. To prevent UV damage, it’s recommended to wear (and frequently reapply) sunscreen to all open areas of the skin. Sun protection is especially important for delicate areas of the face, neck, and hands but also necessary for larger areas of skin on the arms, legs, and back.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Though squamous cell carcinoma is largely less common than basal cell carcinoma, it’s still one of the main types of skin cancer. Squamous cells are found on the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) and like basal cell carcinoma can be cured. However, people often don’t recognize the symptoms or put off treatment until the skin cancer has reached advanced stages.
Meanwhile, in addition to these main types of cancer, melanoma may also develop. This type of skin cancer commonly spreads to other parts of the body, making it the most fatal even if it’s not the most commonly occurring. As with basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, the main cause is overexposure to UV radiation. Yet, this type of cancer also greatly affects those with already weakened immune systems. In addition to practicing sun safety through sunscreen application and shade cover, it’s important to maintain a general sense of overall health and well-being.
Reducing the Risk of Skin Cancer
Enjoying time out in the sun is beneficial, making full avoidance of UV exposure nearly impossible. Millions of people are diagnosed every year, but there are several ways to proactively avoid the risk of skin cancer, and it starts with being protected when in the sun.
An effective sunscreen is important to apply whenever heading outside, regardless of the length of time or the weather conditions. There’s always a chance for UV exposure, and it’s best to always be protected. In addition, during the height of UV radiation between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, alternating time in the shade, covering the body with long sleeves and/or pants, and making sure to reapply sunscreen is crucial.
Additionally, when choosing the right kind of sunscreen, find the one best suited to the activity. For example, there are water-resistant, sweat-resistant, and a range of SPFs to choose from. The sunscreen needs to be formulated to uphold its effectiveness and not be easily wiped away.
Another way to reduce the risk of skin cancer is to pay attention to skin abnormalities early on. While many times new sun spots may be benign, keeping an eye on changes is important. Basal cell carcinoma is identified by red patches, shiny, pink bumps or growths, open sores, and/or scars with slightly elevated edges. Additionally, there may be crusty growths, accompanied by areas of the skin that itch, bleed, or ooze. As a rule of thumb, any abnormal lesions that develop are worth checking out.
Squamous cell carcinoma has many of the same symptoms. Brown or reddish spots on the skin, scaly or crusty growths, open sores, and wart-like growths are all common to this type of skin cancer. Note, it is important to recognize the difference between a wart vs skin cancer before getting too concerned over a new growth. Also, moles can be symptomatic. When skin moles grow in size, or change in color or texture, it’s time to have them assessed by a medical professional.
Making an appointment for a medical evaluation is important. Treating a skin condition early can prevent it from worsening and spreading to other areas of the body. Therefore, it’s crucial to receive a medical assessment and review therapy options right away. Skin cancer is treatable but not all treatments are the same. Before considering invasive surgery or other types of care, consider alternative treatments for skin cancer that are equally effective.
Alternative Treatments for Skin Cancer
Skin cancer causes are always prevalent, but dangerous growths can pop up unexpectedly. Fortunately, advanced science and technology have provided numerous avenues of care, allowing patients to find the method that works best for them. With alternative natural treatments for skin cancer like immunotherapy and nutrition therapy available, it provides less invasive options like skin cancer surgery for people seeking treatment. Though each person will have their own customized route of care, here are a few alternative skin cancer treatments to explore.
Immunotherapy as a method for treating skin cancer can have lasting effects beyond the assigned treatment period. Essentially, it serves as a cancer vaccine which uses immune cells to target cancer cells intravenously. Compared to more conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, which can be administered for more advanced cases of skin cancer, immunotherapy has fewer adverse effects.
Maintaining a strong immune system is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of cancer overall. This starts with establishing a healthy nutrition regimen. Also referred to as Gerson therapy, this method of care focuses on detoxing the body and strengthening the immune system through diet. It includes three main components, which include strict consumption of fruits and vegetables, followed by daily vitamins and mineral supplements, and detox substances to cleanse the body of toxins. Often, nutrition therapy is used in conjunction with other methods of care and determined based on each person’s diagnosis factors.
Detox/IV Chelation Therapy
Similarly to Gerson therapy, detox, or IV chelation therapy focuses on eliminating toxins from the body. This type of treatment uses a combination of vitamins and minerals through supplements or intravenous administration to promote detoxification in the liver, kidney, and each lymph node in your lymphatic systems where heavy metal toxicity lies. This helps to strengthen the immune system and functions necessary to fight off cancer.
Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy
This alternative treatment for skin cancer uses electrical energy and heat to attack and destroy cancer cells without causing damage to healthy tissue. In certain cases, radiofrequency ablation can also be used to treat precancerous cells. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that involves guiding a thin needle into the site of the cancerous tissue. Frequency radio waves are then passed through, heating up the tissue to a temperature high enough to destroy cancer cells.
A Gentler Approach to Skin Cancer Therapy
Many people assume traditional cancer treatments like surgery and chemotherapy are the only choices of care. Introducing alternative methods with a gentler approach expands avenues people can explore. There are several types of alternative treatments for skin cancer prevention, and a personalized combination will be created as part of your unique plan.
Learn more about your options for less invasive, natural care and how it can support your holistic, long-term wellness as you fight cancer. Contact us today.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.