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Can Smoking Increase The Risk of Certain Skin Cancers?

| Date Posted: 8/24/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

There are many traditional and non-traditional holidays and observances in the U.S. Such as National Fried Chicken Day, Random Acts of Kindness week, or Breast Cancer Awareness month. The month of May is dubbed Skin Cancer Awareness month. Even though May is awareness month, awareness of skin cancer should be a year around observance.  It is the most common type of cancer with over 3 million cases a year.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are three types of skin cancer, basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.

Basal Cell: Is the most common type of diagnosed skin cancer. It is most commonly found on the face, neck or hands and is highly treatable and rarely spreads. Symptoms include a sore that oozes or bleeds, a redness area that is irritated, a yellow or white area that resembles a scar, and a pink pearly bump.

Squamous Cell: Is the second more common type of skin cancer.  It is most commonly found in places that see a lot of sun like the ears, face, mouth, but it can develop anywhere on the body. Symptoms include a bump that turns in to an open sore, a bump that gets larger and a sore that won’t heal. When left untreated, it can spread quickly to other parts of the body.

Melanoma: Is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body. When detected early it is considered highly treatable. Symptoms include a mole, freckle or new/existing spot that changes color, size or shape.

Risk Factors

Some common risk factors of skin cancer include:

  • Personal or family history
  • Excessive Sun Exposure
  • Moles
  • Increasing age
  • History of sunburns

To learn more about skin cancer risk factors and prevention click here.

Another risk factor that can be added to the list would be smoking.  In a new study from the University of Nottingham in England, Fiona Bath-Hextall and her colleagues pooled available evidence on the link between tobacco and basal and squamous cell cancers. Based on the 14 studies evaluated, smoking did not increase the risk of basal cell cancer. But the participants did have a 52 percent increase in their risk of squamous cell cancer, based of six studies that varied in size and duration.  This extra risk would be equivalent to increased ultraviolet radiation, which is the most well-known risk factor for squamous cell cancer.

Along with basal cell cancer, smoking did not pose any higher risk for melanoma.  More research is being conducted to indicate the exact correlation between smoking and the increase of squamous cell cancer.

FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s FirstHealth Cancer Services offers treatment and support for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer patients in the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of NC and beyond.


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