Be better to your skin this Skin Cancer Awareness Month by taking the preventative measures necessary, educating yourself on issues to look for, and getting a skin cancer screening. Below, we’ll talk through the different types of skin cancer, the signs of skin cancer, and how you can protect yourself against it.
Skin cancer kills two Americans every single hour and is diagnosed in another 9,500 Americans every day. This makes skin cancer the most common and widespread type of cancer in the U.S., according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Different types of skin cancer can be present anywhere on the body, though areas exposed to the sun are the most commonly affected. The face -- especially the nose -- neck, arms, and shoulders are all common sites of skin cancer. The treatment effectiveness for all types of skin cancer relies on early detection, which is why yearly skin cancer screenings are so important for all adults. More frequent screenings might be necessary for those at higher risk or with a personal or family history of skin cancer. If the cancer is not caught in time, it can quickly spread to other parts of the body and even result in death.
Three types of skin cancer are melanoma (which is the most fatal), basal cell carcinoma (or BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (or SCC.)
Signs of skin cancer are varied and not always easily discerned. Commonly, skin cancer first presents in the form of a mole, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on any new moles or changes to existing moles. Changes can include alterations in size, shape, color, or border. You should check your own moles regularly, but it can be helpful to also have your moles mapped by a dermatologist. If you notice any changes during a self-examination, see your doctor right away.
BCC can manifest in many ways -- as a shiny, translucent bump, a pink, elevated growth, a reddish, irritated patch, or a waxy scar-like lesion. SCC can appear in the form of a red, crusty, or scaly area of skin with an inflamed base. You can view photos of BCC and SCC online to get familiar with what they might look like.
Skin cancer treatment can include surgical excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, cryosurgery, electrodesiccation, and/or curettage, depending on the size, type, and location of the cancer.
Preventative measures involve proper protection against harmful UV rays from the sun or artificial light sources like tanning beds or booths. Wear SPF 50 or higher when outside and avoid the midday hours of the day when the sun is at its peak, around 12-2. You can also wear a wide-brimmed hat or sun shirt. And be sure to get your annual skin cancer screening, especially if you have fair skin, light hair, and blue or green eyes.
If you’re in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas and want to receive a skin cancer screening, contact Louisiana Dermatology Associates today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.