Did you know that skin cancer makes up over half of all new cancers in the United States? There are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year than all other types of cancer combined. How do you really know about skin cancer? It’s important to be well-informed so that you can protect yourself.
Each year, there are more than three million cases of skin cancer, with basal cell carcinoma accounting for 80 percent of all cases of skin cancer. The next most frequent form is squamous cell carcinoma, representing about 16 percent of the total. Malignant melanoma makes up the remaining 4 percent. Each of these types of skin cancer is unique, and none of them transform into another type. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma are not typically life-threatening, and with early detection, can be successfully treated. Melanoma, on the other hand, is extremely serious. It grows aggressively and can metastasize, which means it spreads to other parts of the body.
What causes skin cancer? Almost all cases of skin cancer are caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, usually from sunlight but sometimes from manmade sources like tanning beds or sun lamps. If you’re fair-skinned, or you live in the southern United States, you’re at a higher risk for skin cancer. Advancing age is also a risk factor, though people can get skin cancer at any age.
There is good news, though. There’s plenty you can do to protect yourself from ultraviolet rays, and if you pay attention, you can catch skin cancer early enough for effective treatment. Minimize your direct exposure to UV rays by wearing protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when you’re in the sun, and avoiding the outdoors when the sun’s intensity is at its peak, between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin each morning, and reapply it every hour or two when you’re in direct sunlight.
Be extremely cautious with your children’s sun protection, because most of the damage done by the sun happens before people turn 18. However, it’s also important to understand that it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. Even those who have had skin cancer in the past can reduce their future risk by taking protective measures. This is vital because studies show that those who have a personal history of skin cancer are at high risk for developing future skin cancer.
Detection is just as important as protection. Fortunately, it doesn’t take an x-ray or blood test to find skin cancer in the early stages. Pay attention to any changes in freckles, moles, or blemishes, and let your doctor know if anything seems suspicious. You should do a thorough self-exam once a month, and see a dermatologist for a skin screening examination at least once a year, especially if you have a history of significant sun exposure or a family history of skin cancer.
Whether you need a skin cancer screening or treatment, you can trust Skin Cancer Specialists, P.C to take care of you. Our practice was originally entirely devoted to treating people with skin cancer, and though we have grown to become a premier dermatology practice with including an aesthetic center, we’re still committed to caring for those with skin cancer, providing compassionate treatment that maximizes effectiveness and respects aesthetic implications. Continually adapting our practice to reflect new and improved technique and procedures, we adhere to the highest standards in the industry. Call 770.422.5557 or contact us through our website to learn about our personalized care and what we can do for you.