Skin Cancer: The Stealth Killer
Cancer has been an active concern in our society for the past couple decades, since we truly discovered the nature of cancer and the potency it brings along with it. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that scientists were beginning to truly understand the origin of cancer. Scientists dating back all the way to the Renaissance, when they first began performing autopsies to learn more about the human body and form, noticed abnormalities but it never clicked that it was something much worse than it seemed. Research has continued since then, and it has continued to thrive even to this day. When James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA and it’s chemical structure in 1962, it opened up doors that even they could not expect. With the understanding of DNA and how it affected the way we look at life, came the beginning of the understanding of mutated DNA (which is a cause of the growth of cancerous cells). In this past century, researching scientists discovered that cancer is linked with the DNA that resides in a cell’s nucleus. By ways of damage to the cells via chemicals or radiation, or even introduction of a new DNA, the cancerous cells begin to form and duplicate. We are learning more and more about cancer and how to fight it, but we still have much more to learn.
Up until the early 1960s, the people of that generation grew up believe that exposure to the sun was healthy and could be used as potential treatments for ailments like acne, for example. The doctors of the early 20th century even promoted the use of the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV rays) as a treatment for certain strains of tuberculosis. Little did they know the long run consequences of prolonged exposure to the now-labeled UV “death rays.” Perry Robins, a doctor working at the New York University hospital in the mid Sixties claims to be one of the first people who tried publicizing skin cancer and its true danger. When a patient of his came in with a concerning skin lesion, Dr. Robins diagnosed her with skin cancer. When the patient reacted shocked to the news, believing what she had grown up believing: that the sun was good for you, Dr. Robins went directly to American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology. Both agencies had no information to distribute concerning skin cancer and prevention. Since the 1950s, the number of mortality cases involving skin cancer (specifically melanoma) have jumped exponentially, and also in the late Seventies when the use of tanning bed salons was first introduced to America.
Melanoma, the least common of the skin cancers, is the deadliest type of skin cancer. One in 50 people will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime. Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of all skin cancer cases but typically results in more deaths than the other types of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of three deadliest cancers (including all other types of cancer), among liver and esophageal cancer....