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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Management of Patients With Dermatologic Problems

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Malignant Tumors of the Skin: Skin Cancer

Exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer; incidence is related to the total amount of exposure to the sun. Sun damage is cumulative, and harmful effects may be severe by age 20 years.

Malignant Tumors of the Skin: Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. If the incidence continues at the present rate, an estimated one of eight fair-skinned Americans will develop skin cancer, especially basal cell carcinoma (Chart 56-5). Because the skin is easily in-spected, skin cancer is readily seen and detected and is the most successfully treated type of cancer (Odom et al., 2000).


Exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer; inci-dence is related to the total amount of exposure to the sun. Sun damage is cumulative, and harmful effects may be severe by age 20 years. The increase in skin cancer probably reflects changing lifestyles and the emphasis on sunbathing and related activities in light of changes in the environment, such as holes in the Earth’s ozone layer. Protective measures should be used throughout life, and nurses need to inform patients about risk factors associated with skin cancer.

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