Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, affecting more than 3 million people in the U.S. alone. This form of cancer builds in the tissue of the largest organ the body – the skin.
Skin cancer has three forms: melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell. These cancers all show changes in the skin but vary in size, coloration and texture. Knowing how to detect these forms of skin cancer will help relieve symptoms and allow early treatment.
- Melanoma is the leading cause of death in women ages 25-30 and is most commonly diagnosed in women ages 15-29. About 7,230 people die from melanoma each year. Melanoma will look like a new mole that has an unusual appearance. The mole can have ragged and uneven edges with shade ranged from black to tan. The biggest indicator of melanoma is if the mole is constantly changing.
- Basal cell is caused by sun exposure and can develop in those who have received radiation therapy as a child. Basal cell carcinoma will look like a reddish patch on the skin that is itchy but barely hurts. May look like a pink, red or white growth with an undefined border. Basal cell spots can become an open sore that bleeds or crusts without closing for several weeks.
- Squamous cell usually caused by sun exposure and can be seen on different parts of the skin. Squamous cell is a wart-like growth that has a rough surface and a central depression. This form also can develop sores that stay open for weeks.
Preventing skin cancer begins with knowing the risk factors. Everyone can get skin cancer if the proper steps are not taken. Although those with fair skin types are more likely to burn by sun exposure and have a higher risk of getting skin cancer, any skin color or race can get skin cancer.
Other risk factors are:
- Long periods of sun exposure (UVA)
- Tanning beds
- History of sunburns
- Have had skin cancer before
- Weakened or suppressed immune system
- Family history of skin cancer
The ways to prevent skin cancer are simple. It is key to know that prevention only lowers your risk of getting skin cancer:
- Limit sun exposure of both UVA and UVB rays
- No amount of indoor tanning is safe
- Wear sun protective clothing
- Sunscreen with SPF 30 or more
- Examine your skin regularly
Talk to a Prevea Dermatologist
today if you have noticed any changes in your skin or moles.