This Skin Cancer Awareness Month, be better to your skin! Educate yourself on the facts and learn how to look for signs of skin cancer. Then get a skin cancer screening and protect yourself from the sun. Here’s some helpful information to get you started.
Did you know that skin cancer is diagnosed in 9,500 Americans every single day, and that two Americans die from skin cancer every hour? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.”
There are multiple types of skin cancer, all of which can potentially be treated if found early. However, the key is early detection. If not caught and treated, skin cancers can rapidly spread to other parts of the body and eventually can be fatal.
The three most common types of skin cancer are melanoma (which is the most fatal), basal cell carcinoma or BCC (which develops in the deepest layers of the skin), and squamous cell carcinoma or SCC (which develops on the topmost layers of the skin).
Depending on which type of skin cancer you’re looking for, the signs of skin cancer might be different and sometimes unpredictable. However, there are a few unique characteristics of each. First, it’s always good to keep an eye on new and existing moles. You can have your moles mapped by a dermatology professional as well as do a thorough self-examination regularly. Look for changing size, shape, color, and border. If any changes occur, see your dermatologist right away.
While melanoma usually develops in the form of abnormal moles, signs of skin cancer might be different in other types of skin cancer. BCC can appear as a shiny, translucent bump or a pink, elevated growth. It can also show up as a reddish, irritated patch of skin or a waxy scar-like lesion. SCC usually appears in the form of a red, crusty, or scaly area of skin with an inflamed base that resembles a bump.
Treatment for melanoma skin cancer, SCC, and BCC might involve surgical excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, cryosurgery, electrodesiccation, and/or curettage. All of these methods work to remove skin cancer as well as any remaining affected cells. These treatments involve various levels of invasiveness and recovery time, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about which ones are needed to remove a certain type of skin cancer.
Prevention truly is the best way to guard yourself against skin cancer. The number one preventative method is proper protection against harmful UV rays. This means wearing SPF 50 or higher when outside in the sunlight, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sun shirt, staying inside during midday hours when the sunlight is most intense, seeking shade when possible, and avoiding tanning beds and booths. Remember, it only takes one blistering sunburn to result in skin cancer, so prevention is vital.
Receiving an annual skin cancer screening is one way to care for your skin this Skin Cancer Awareness Month. This is especially important for high-risk people with fair skin, light hair, and blue or green eyes.
If you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and want to get a skin cancer screening this month, contact The Dermatology Group today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.