Skin Cancer- Know the Signs by Lauren Mitchell
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, often developing on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Ninety percent of skin cancers detected early enough can be cured. Prevention and/or early treatment of skin cancer is critical to living a long, healthy life.
There are multiple types of skin cancer:
Actinic Keratoses (AK): AK is made up of dry, scaly patches or spots that are precancerous. They often appear on the head, neck, hands, and forearms. AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), so treatment is crucial.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): BCC is the most common type of skin cancer. BCCs appear to be a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pink patch of skin. BCCs develop after years of skin being left unprotected. If left untreated, BCC can travel to the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing serious damage and disfigurement.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer. SCC often appears to look like a red, firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens. SCC can grow deep in the skin and cause serious damage and disfigurement.
Melanoma: Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It often develops in a mole or appears as a dark spot.
The “ABCDEs” are characteristics used by dermatologists to classify melanomas:
A = Asymmetry (one half is different than the other half)
B = Border (an irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border)
C = Color (varying color; has shades of tan, brown, black, white, red, or blue)
D = Diameter (usually bigger than 6mm, but can be smaller)
E = Evolving (a mole or lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in appearance)
If you notice a spot that changes or is changing, itches, or bleeds, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Who is at risk?
Your skin type is a major factor in your risk for skin cancer. People with darker skin (more pigmentation) have more natural protection from the sun. However, people with darker skin can still get skin cancer.
What causes skin cancer?
UV radiation from sunlight and the lights used in tanning beds are the leading cause of skin cancer. Due to skin cancers that develop on skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight, there could be other varying factors, such as being exposed to toxic substances or having a weakened immune system.
What is the treatment?
Treatment for skin cancer can include surgery, other forms of local therapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
What can you do to prevent skin cancer?
- Frequently check your body head to toe for any skin abnormalities.
- Try to stay out of direct sunlight, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
- Wear protective clothing, including hats and sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
For more information, visit www.skincancer.org.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.