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Skin Cancer (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

Skin Cancer (USA Today Health Reports: Diseases and Disorders)

By: Connie Goldsmith
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2010
ISBN: 978-0761354697
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 18, 2010

When many people think about major organs in the body, they seldom think about the skin, the largest of them all. The skin “weights about 9 or 10 pounds” and if it “were stretched out, it would cover 20 to 22 square feet (about 2 square meters). When people think about their hearts most of them realize that it is important to eat heart healthy meals in order to optimize the health of this major organ, yet few give a second thought to the health of their skin. Many purchase moisturizing lotions, lotions that make the skin soft and supple, but there are other protective measures we need to consider, especially when we expose our skin to the dangerous ultraviolet rays of the sun. People used to think that tanned skin was a sign of glowing good health, but in reality “tanned skin is a sign of sun damage.”

Alexandria, one of the many young people portrayed in this book, bluntly states that, “The idea of a perfect tan means little when you’re dealing with the removal of precancerous sunspots.” Other portrayals discuss much more insidious growths such as the more dangerous and aggressive melanomas. In this book you will learn about the physiological functions of the skin including, but not limited to, temperature regulation, you’ll learn how it “protects us from the environment,” minimizes blood loss, absorbs needed medication via patches, and helps “eliminate waste products.” In a nut shell, “Our skin is a highly specialized organ that constantly communicates and interacts with the environment” in order to keep us safe. But what happens when we neglect the health of our skin and opt not to protect ourselves? Have you ever heard of the following cancers: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma? If you hear them coming from a doctor’s lips you’d wished you’d taken better care of your skin.

Some young people truly believe they are not susceptible to any kind of cancer, especially if they maintain healthy lifestyles and do not smoke, drink, or are exposed to other hazardous environmental factors that could cause cancer. Unless they plan on living under a rock or never see the light of day they are potentially at risk because, “Even though ultraviolet rays are invisible, they can irreparably damage a cell’s DNA and lead to cancer. Protecting oneself from these rays is critical in order to preserve the integrity of the skin and avoid cancer, a cancer that is, for the most part highly preventable. In this book you will learn about the causes of cancer, the three types of UV radiation, the types of skin cancer, the symptoms, how cancer is diagnosed, treated and staged, you’ll learn about new therapies, how you should examine your own skin, how prevalent skin cancer is, risk factors, how to tell “the difference between a normal mole and an abnormal mole or melanoma,” how to protect yourself from getting cancer (Slip, slop, and slap), innovative new research, and you’ll learn many more interesting facets about your skin and how you can prevent yourself from getting cancer.

This amazingly informative book on skin cancer is an eye opening, potentially lifesaving learning experience. I was quite impressed with this very well-written treatise on skin cancer. It was by no means alarmist, yet does not diminish or minimize the importance of protecting oneself from the deadly result of overexposure to ultraviolet rays, especially those absorbed from tanning beds. The portraits, all of which come from young people, are especially striking and, in some cases, poignant. When I heard young Nate cry out from the pages, it struck a chord: “I’m twenty-three years old now, still young. I have a long way to go. I want to grow old. The fact is, I could have died.”

The text in some sections is necessarily medically oriented, but in its entirety is very readable. In essence, this book simply asks all of us to wake up and die right, not early, nor as a result of negligence. There are numerous photographs (some graphic), microphotographs of cancer cells, informative sidebars, and charts scattered throughout the book. There are many fascinating period USA Today articles discussing skin cancer. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, a listing of important resources, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This amazingly informative book on skin cancer is an eye opening, potentially lifesaving learning experience.

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