Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and involves abnormal growths of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, but most frequently appear on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Although most cases of skin cancer can be successfully treated, it is still important to keep skin safe and healthy and try to prevent this disease.
There are three major types of skin cancer that affect associated layers of the skin:
- Squamous cell carcinoma affects the squamous cells, which are just below the outer surface of the skin and serve as the inner lining.
- Basal cell carcinoma affects the basal cells, which lay under the squamous cells and produce new skin cells.
- Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and affects the melanocytes, which produce melanin.
Every day, skin cells die and new ones form to replace them through DNA-controlled processes. Skin cancer can form when this process does not work properly, due to damaged DNA. When these processes do not function properly, tumors may form. DNA damage is often a result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps. Since skin cancer can sometimes affect areas not exposed to the sun, heredity may also be a factor. Certain factors, such as fair skin, moles, a weakened immune system, and age, can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
Medical attention is necessary after noticing any skin changes, as early detection is valuable in successfully treating skin cancer. Regular full body screening is recommended as well. A biopsy is usually performed to accurately diagnose suspected cancerous growths.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor. Most options remove the entire growth, are usually effective and can perform in an outpatient setting. Skin cancer treatment methods include freezing, excision, laser therapy, Mohs surgery, and chemotherapy.
Although most skin cancer treatments are successful, recurrence is still possible. It is, therefore, important to practice preventive measures and see your doctor regularly. Self-skin exams are also a good idea to spot any changes promptly.
Snoring and sleep apnea are common sleep disorders that can affect breathing and prevent patients from getting a sufficient amount of rest each night. When air flows past our throat while sleeping, the tissues vibrate and create the sounds we recognize as snoring. Snoring is very common and occurs at least occasionally in almost half of all adults.
When we sleep, our throat muscles relax and vibrate when air tries to pass through but is blocked. Snoring can be brought on by nasal congestion, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea or simply the anatomy of your mouth. If your tonsils are enlarged, your airway can be narrower and vibrate more when air tries to flow through. Being overweight can also contribute to a narrowed airway.
Heavy snorers may suffer from sleep apnea, a condition when snoring is frequently interrupted by periods of completely obstructed breathing. Sleep apnea affects about 18 million people of all ages in the U.S. and takes three forms: obstructive, central and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form, occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat closes, blocking (obstructing) the person’s airway.
For those with sleep apnea or just heavy snoring, there are several treatment options available:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – surgery that treats obstructive sleep apnea by tightening the tissue in the throat and palate to expand the passageways.
- Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) – TAP is a variety of procedures used to treat snoring and sleep apnea. Some procedures include bipolar cautery, laser and radiofrequency. Laser Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) removes the obstruction in the airway with a laser while radiofrequency ablation emits energy to the area to shrink excess tissue in the area.
- Genioglossus and Hyoid Advancement – surgically opens up the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – involves the patient wearing a pressurized mask over their nose while they sleep. The mask pumps air through the airway to keep is open.
- Septoplasty and Turbinate Surgery – reduces resistance to air flow through the nose.
While snoring may seem harmless, it is a serious medical condition that requires treatment to prevent future health problems for you and others. Talk to your doctor today if you suffer from snoring.