Skin Cancer and the Importance of a Yearly Check Up
Protecting your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and getting a yearly skin exam are absolutely necessary to ensure you are keeping your skin in good health. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Current estimates are that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma rates in the United States doubled from 1982 to 2011 and have continued to increase. Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of skin color.
Here are the different types of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
The most common type of skin cancer. It’s also the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. This skin cancer usually develops on skin that gets sun exposure, such as on the head, neck, or back of the hands. BCC is especially common on the face, often forming on the nose. While BCC often develops on skin that has had the most sun, BCC can appear on any part of the body, including the trunk, legs, and arms. This type of skin cancer grows slowly. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment is important because BCC can grow wide and deep, destroying skin, tissue, and bone.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
About 700,000 new cases of this skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. This skin cancer tends to develop on skin that has been exposed to the sun for years. It is most frequently seen on sun-exposed areas, such as the head, neck, and back of the hands. Women frequently get SCC on their lower legs. It is possible to get SCC on any part of the body, including the inside of the mouth, lips, and genitals. 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. With early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable.
Melanoma (Also Called Malignant Melanoma)
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Allowed to grow, melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body. This can be deadly. When found early, melanoma is highly treatable. Give yourself regular skin checks by using the ABCDEs of Melanoma:
- Asymmetry – one half of a mole is unlike the other half
- Border – irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined border
- Color – varied from one area of the mole to another: shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red, or blue
- Diameter – while melanomas are usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser), when diagnosed they can be smaller
- Evolving – a mole or skin lesions that looks different than the rest or is changing in size, shape, and color
A tan is a sign that your skin has been injured. Whether you’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays or visit an indoor tanning salon, every time you tan, your skin is damaged. As this damage builds, you speed up the aging of your skin and increase your risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
If it’s time for you to get your skin checked, call us today to schedule a full body check up with Dr. Flanagan or Dana McCullar, CRNP.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)