Skin Cancer

Did you know that as many as one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime? With over two million new diagnosis annually, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
 
Skin cancer can often begin as new growths or precancerous lesions on your skin. While these moles, spots or other changes might seem harmless, they could become skin cancer over time. As many as 40% to 50% of fair-skinned people who live to 65 will develop at least one skin cancer in their lifetime and it accounts for nearly half the cases of cancer in the United States.
 
Learning to spot the early signs of skin cancer and knowing how to treat it is important for your health and well being. Ask your Radiant Complexions dermatology expert to perform a cancer screening and for tips to watch for and protect against skin cancer in the future.
 
Am I at Risk for Skin Cancer?
While everyone is at risk for skin cancer, those particularly susceptible to skin cancer are those with many moles (more than 50); those with moles that have abnormal outlines; people with red or blonde hair and blue eyes; individuals with the inability to tan; past history of sunburn especially a blistering burn before the age of 14, and/or a family history of melanoma.


How to Perform a Skin Cancer Self Check
Approximately 30% of melanoma originates from an existing mole. Checking moles on a regular basis is very important for the prevention of skin cancer. Be sure to examine your skin monthly using two mirrors in a well lit room. You should be undressed and be able to examine in between fingers, toes and hard to see areas like the back of the legs and back. Use a hair dryer if necessary to see areas of the scalp. Doing these monthly exams will help you to recognize changes when they occur.
 
Schedule An Annual Skin Cancer Exam
Visiting your Radiant Complexions dermatology expert annually is an important step to staying skin cancer safe. This appointment usually only takes a few minutes for an exam, and during the visit you’ll want to be sure to point out anything unusual you’ve noticed about any moles or skin spots during your self checks. During your visit ask about anything you might think is suspicious, has changed shape, color, firmness, size or may be itching or bleeding. You’ll also want to mention anything different from what the mole has normally looked like or any new lesions.
 
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
While you can’t undo past sun exposure, you can help protect yourself in the future. Daily sunscreen use can help cut the incidence of skin cancer in half. To help minimize your risk, use a sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 daily. When possible, also avoid direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear tightly woven dark clothing with a wide brim hat to protect your face when outdoors in sunny weather. Tanning beds can also increase skin cancer risk and should be avoided.
 

 

What Types of Skin Cancer Are There?
There are three primary types of skin cancer.

Melanoma
While the least common of the three types of skin cancers, melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. Many melanomas will often resemble or develop from moles and are usually black or brown, however they can also be red, purple, pink, blue or white. Mainly caused by intense UV radiation (which frequently leads to sunburn), a majority of melanomas can be attributed to sun exposure. If you’ve had one or more blistering sunburns that can double your chances for melanoma, as well as if you have had more than five sunburns.

If discovered early before it has a chance to spread to other parts of the body, melanoma has a high cure rate which is why regular self skin checks and annual skin cancer exams are so important.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
The most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) usually develops on skin that gets extensive sun exposure such as the neck, hands, head, face, and nose. However you can get BCC on any part of your body, including areas that do not regularly get exposure to the sun. Contact with arsenic, exposure to radiation, open sores, chronic inflammatory skin conditions and complications of burns, scars, infections, vaccinations, or even tattoos can also be contributing factors. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts to the body, however treatment is important because BCC can grow wide and deep destroying bone and skin tissue.
Usually seen in adults, anyone with a history of sun exposure can develop BCC. Those with highest risk have fair skin, blond or red hair and green or gray eyes. Workers and other individuals who spend long hours in the sun are particularly susceptible, and those who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting BCC.
 
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
A common skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) usually develops on skin that has received years of sun exposure, especially on exposed areas like lower legs, head, hands and neck. However it is possible to get SCC on any part of the body including the inside of the mouth, lips, genitals, and even inside of the mouth. People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting SCC. They also tend to get SCC earlier in life. SCC can spread to other parts of the body, however with early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable. If you have been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, talk to your dermatology expert about the treatment options that are available.
 
How is Skin Cancer Treated?
To diagnose skin cancer, your Radiant Complexions dermatology expert, will perform an exam and if necessary take a biopsy of any suspicious moles or cells. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, your dermatology provider will work with you on a plan that may include excision, Mohs surgery, or another course of treatment.
 
Ask your Radiant Complexions Dermatology expert to perform a skin cancer screening and be sure to schedule an appointment as soon as you notice any differences or changes in your skin’s appearance.

Sources:

AAD.org

Skin Cancer Foundation