Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States so common, in fact, that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. All ages are affected. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in young adults and it affects nearly 50 percent of Americans aged over 65.
Ultraviolet (U.V.) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. While a small amount of sun exposure is good for us, prolonged and accumulative sun exposure damages the skin. Heredity also plays a significant role. A person who is closely related to someone with skin cancer is at greater risk of developing the disease themself. Other significant risk factors include having skin that freckles or burns easily, fair hair, blue or green eyes, and exposure to sunburn. In fact, if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime, your risk of skin cancer doubles.
The prevalence of atypical moles (known as dysplastic nevi) can also contribute to skin cancer risk. Whereas normal moles are round or oval in shape with a well-defined edge, atypical moles have a hazy or irregular border and splotchy coloring. People who have atypical moles are at increased risk of developing melanoma and are advised to check their skin regularly.
Here’s the good news! Skin cancer is easy to cure when it’s detected early. Even melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is 99 percent curable if identified in its earliest stages. In addition to checking your own skin regularly, we recommend that our patients undergo an annual full body examination with one of our board-certified dermatologists.
But, remember, prevention is always better than a cure. Your everyday regimen should include sunscreen and sunglasses and your outdoor wardrobe should always include a hat and a shirt preferably worn in the shade!
The most common types of skin cancer are:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Malignant melanoma
These cancers all originate in the skin and if left untreated can invade and destroy muscle, bone and other structures. Untreated malignant melanoma and squamous cell cancers can Metastasis, which is the spread of cancer beyond the site of the original growth of lesion and can be fatal. Â Unlike other forms of cancer in internal body organs, skin cancer can be seen without the aid of equipment. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
Skin cancer may arise in a number of ways. If you notice any of the following signs of symtoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
There are many benign skin growths or lesions that resemble skin cancer but that are obviously no cancer when analyzed under the microscope. In many cases, a biopsy is the only way to diagnose a cancer.
Your dermatologist will discuss with you the most appropriate method of treatment for your skin condition.
Beware of any of the following signs:
- A new growth on the skin of an adult that does not disappear in four to six weeks.
- Any skin lesion that grows larger and turns pearly, translucent, brown black or multicolor.
- A mole, birthmark, or beauty mark that increase in size, changes color or texture or becomes irregular.
- An open sore or wound that refuses to heal, persists for more than four weeks, or heals and later reopens.
- Any skin spot or growth that continues to itch, hurt, crust over, form a scab, erode or bleed for several weeks.
Skin Cancer is Preventable! Protect Yourself.
- The sun’s UV rays cause more than 90% of all skin cancers.
- 70 – 80% UV rays can penetrate clouds and fog.
- UV rays reflect up off of water and sand.
- UV damage has a cumulative effect.
- Over 1 million skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
- Be aware of the sun damage symptoms.
- Make your appointment today to have your skin checked.