Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to Skincancer.org, more than 3.5 million skin cancer cases in over two million people are diagnosed annually. The sad truth is that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
Over the past three decades, more people have had a type of skin cancer appear on their body than all other types of cancers combined. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers can be attributed to over-exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). Often, skin cancer is the easiest form of cancer to find and to treat, even early malignant melanoma skin cancers have a better prognosis, when detected, diagnosed, and treated early.
TYPES OF SKIN CANCER
Here are three of the most common types of skin cancer:
Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. It can grow very quickly and can be life-threatening in as little as six weeks. This type of skin cancer can also spread to other parts of the body. However, this type of skin cancer can be treated when diagnosed early enough.
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
The most common yet least dangerous form of skin cancer. It appears as a lump or a dry, scaly lesion area around the neck. It can look like an open sore with red patches or little bumps or growths.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
This type of skin cancer is the second most common kind. It’s not quite as dangerous as melanoma but it can spread to other parts of the body if not treated. It appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot that can easily bleed or re-open after crusting.
A yearly full skin exam, a mole check, by a Dermatologist is recommended for all person’s 40 yrs old and up and people with sun damaged skin, many moles, and other skin conditions should start younger.
Self-examinations of the skin can be performed regularly to look for skin growths, any new moles or existing ones that have changed color, increased in size, thickness, and/or texture. Other things to look for include spots or sores that continue to itch, scab, hurt or bleed, and sores that do not heal within three weeks.
Here is what you should pay attention when doing a self-examination at home:
- Face – Nose, lips, mouth, the front and back of your ears
- Scalp – Thorough inspection of your scalp in sections
- Hands – Wrists, palms and between the fingers
- Arms – Elbows, underarms
- Torso – Neck, Chest and abdominal area
- Upper Back – Use a full-length mirror to inspect your neck, back and upper arms
- Lower Back – Lower back, waist and hips, buttocks and back of legs
- Legs – Use a chair and am irror to examine thighs, shins, ankles. between toes, soles and heels
When you are at your dermatologist for cancer screening, he or she will ask you for your medical history, followed by a head-to-toe skin exam. Dermatologists are trained to diagnose, manage, and treat skin cancers.
During this time, it would be recommended that you ask questions about what to look for when you perform self-exams. Any spots that the doctor suspects to be cancerous will be biopsied. When skin tissue is biopsied, it is sent to a lab where a pathologist examines the sample, then either refutes or confirms the dermatologist’s suspicions.
Here are some other ways you can to reduce the chances of getting skin cancer:
- Try to avoid going outdoors between the hours of 10 AM to 4 PM, when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest
- When you go out into the sun, cover up your skin with clothing, hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses
- Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every day
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths
ONLINE RESOURCES FOR SKIN CANCER
Please click on the links below for more information about other resources about skin cancer:
Skin Cancer Foundation – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention – Website | Facebook | Twitter
American Academy of Dermatology – Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube