How much do you know about skin cancer? More than three million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year: over half of all new cancers are skin cancers. Learning how to protect your skin and knowing how to identify the signs of skin cancer is important. Having regular skin cancer screenings with a dermatologist just may save your life.
- What are the different types of skin cancer?
- Actinic keratosis (AK) is actually pre-cancer. If you notice dry, scaly patches or spots on your skin, see your doctor to determine if that’s what it is. AKs are the result of sun exposure and are most often seen on people with fair skin. They’re easily treated, and it’s important to have them treated because they can progress to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. It’s not typically life-threatening and can be treated and cured with early detection. SCC looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then reopens. It tends to form on skin with frequent sun exposure, so it’s often found on the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent SCC from growing deep in the skin or spreading to other parts of the body.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, also easily treated if detected early. 80 percent of all skin cancers is BCC, and though it frequently develops in fair-skinned people, it can also occur in people with darker skin. Developing after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning, BCCs Look like flesh-colored, pearly bumps or pinkish patches on the skin. They can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs, but are most common on the head, neck, and arms. It’s important to have basal cell carcinoma diagnosed and treated early so that it doesn’t have the chance to invade the surrounding tissue.
- Melanoma is the least common but deadliest form of skin cancer. It frequently forms in a mole or appears as a dark spot on the skin. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital because melanoma has the potential to aggressively progress and spread to other parts of the body. Knowing the ABCDEs of melanoma will help you spot it in time: A for asymmetry, with one half unlike the other half, B for an irregular border, C for color that varies from one area to another, D for a diameter usually greater than the size of a pencil eraser, and E for evolving, as the mole changes.
- How can you reduce your risk of skin cancer? The best way to protect yourself from skin cancer is to protect yourself from the sun. Wear protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat when you’re in the sun, and try not to be in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is most intense. Liberally apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to all exposed skin, reapplying every one to two hours during direct sun exposure.
- How is skin cancer treated? All forms are skin cancer are treatable, using treatment options like surgery on a microscopic level, low energy radiation therapy, blue light therapy, or a skin biopsy. Your doctor can work with you, to create a treatment plan using one or more options to prevent the cancer from spreading.
Whether you need a skin cancer screening or treatment, you can trust Skin Cancer Specialists, P.C. & Aesthetic Center to take care of you. Our practice was originally entirely devoted to treating people with skin cancer, and though we have grown to be a full-service dermatology practice, 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 one of our offices or contact us through our website to learn about our personalized care and what we can do for you.