Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer? At the Dermatology Center for Skin and Health, PLLC, we believe that regular skin checks are imperative to anyone’s health because if skin cancer is caught early, it is generally curable.
Unfortunately, skin checks are examinations that often get overlooked. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of skin checks by yourself and through a dermatologist.
More than one million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. This means that approximately one in five million Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their life. Those that have had skin cancer once are also more at risk of developing new skin cancer. Detecting changes in your skin may be a sign of skin cancer.
There are three common forms of skin cancer: Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.
The most common type of skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma, which frequently develops in those who have fairer skin. This cancer develops from years of unprotected sun-exposure or indoor tanning.
Like BCC, another common skin cancer is Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which develops from too much sun exposure and develops in both light and dark skin. Early diagnosis for both of these common skin cancers is important to help contain and rid of it before it spreads.
Melanoma, which is considered the most serious of all skin cancers, is dangerous because it is known to spread. Melanoma most commonly develops in a mole but sometimes can appear as a new dark spot on the skin.
To learn about other, less common skin cancers, click here.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Sometimes it may be difficult to detect skin cancer, especially if you are unaware of what to look for. Here are some of the most common signs that you may have developed skin cancer.
- New, large, brown spots (can be mistaken for a large freckle)
- Pearly and dome-shaped growths
- Dark lesions
- Brown or black streaks under the nails
- Existing moles that begin to become more noticeable (grow, bleed, itch, etc.)
- Slow-growing scaly lesions that grow in clusters
You should use the ABCDE method to monitor the changes in your moles. To view a great infographic on the ABCDE method, click here.
- A: Asymmetrical
- B: Border
- C: Color
- D: Diameter
- E: Evolving
HOW TO PERFORM A SKIN CANCER SELF-EXAM
At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we recommend scheduling a skin check with your dermatologist; however, we also recommend performing a skin cancer self-exam at least once a month.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends completing the skin cancer self-exam in a full-length mirror. This way, you can examine your body front and back. Make sure to also lift your arms when checking both your left and right sides.
Get Up Close
Make sure to check all areas and crevices of your body. These areas include your elbows, underarms, forearms and palms. Take a seat and check the lower part of your body as well. Besides checking your legs, make sure to check in between your toes and the soles of your feet.
Use a Hand Mirror
A hand mirror can help target the areas that are harder to see such as your scalp and neck. Parting your hair or loosely tying it up can help get a closer look at the scalp and the neck. Use the hand mirror to view your back and buttocks.
SKIN CANCER PREVENTION
About 90 percent of non-melanoma cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Some precautions that can be taken to prevent skin cancer are staying out of the sun during peak hours, wearing a hat and sunglasses, using a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher year-round and remembering to reapply sunscreen/sunblock every two hours while in the sun. It is also important to avoid tanning beds and to wear protective clothing.
It is important to remember that skin cancer may not affect the way you feel. You can feel well and have an unusual spot that doesn’t itch or hurt, either. That is why it is imperative to continue monthly skin cancer self-exams and annual skin examinations with your dermatologist.
Here is a very helpful infographic from the American Academy of Dermatology Association explaining how to spot skin cancer.
Skin cancer can affect both males and females, of any skin color, and of any age. If you recognize any changes in your skin, or if a particular spot morphs, forms, bleeds or itches, please do not hesitate to give our office a call. We can help you schedule an appointment or answer any questions you may have about a spot that you may think could be cancer.
You can reach our office at 304-598-3888.