As it stands, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States, with close to 4 million new cases diagnosed each year! Skin cancer has no preference, it affects people of all colors and ages. If you have been spending a lot of time out in the sun with no protection, then you could be at risk of developing some form of skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there are more cases of skin cancer diagnosed than prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancers combined
If you didn’t already know, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which means that it is time to improve the public’s understanding of this disease. First off, were you aware that there are three main types of skin cancer? They are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma (the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer). May serves as a perfect opportunity to improve the public’s awareness of the screening, prevention, and treatment options that are available, as well as providing the most updated educational resources on these cancers.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
Each year, there are more than a million people in the United States who develop either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma (often referred to as non-melanoma skin cancer). Of the two, BCC is the more common skin cancer, often developing on the areas of the body that have received the most sun-exposure. You should be wary of any bumps that have a waxy or clear appearance, or an unusual lesion (these could have a brownish or fleshy color). The second most common form of skin cancer, SCC, also tends to develop somewhere on the neck or the face. This cancer will appear as a crusty, flat, or scaly lesion or a firm, red nodule.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Awareness
On the other hand, melanoma is quite aggressive and is deadly when not diagnosed early enough. During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we would really like to stress the importance of being able to spot the initial signs of melanoma as soon as possible. This deadly disease originates in the melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells of the skin. A lot of people think of moles when they hear melanoma, but this cancer can develop in any part of the body. When looking out for melanoma, look for a mole that changes size, color, or texture; a big brown spot that has dark speckles; dark colored lesions that appear on the soles of the feet, palms, fingertips, or toes; or an unusual lesion that has undefined borders.
Preventing Future Cases of Skin Cancer
The prevalence of skin cancer has gotten to a point where it is estimated that nearly one in every five Americans will eventually be diagnosed with this disease. This means that there is a very real chance that either you or someone you know could be directly affected by skin cancer, if that isn’t the case already. Fortunately, skin cancer is a disease which can be prevented when the proper steps are taken.
You are going to want to avoid tanning beds and sun burns where possible, as these can cause damage that will lead to skin cancer. If you know that you are going to be spending some time outside, then be sure to put on some sunscreen (SPF 30 or above). Secondly, you’ll want to keep a lookout for any new or changing spots that appear on the skin. If you notice a lesion that is itchy or starts bleeding, then please do not hesitate to make an appointment with a dermatologist.