In the United States, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Skin cancer will affect about 20% of Americans at some point in their lives. Skin cancer actually affects more people than any other type of cancer combined. Melanoma cases, the most deadly type of skin cancer, are expected to rise by almost 8% this year.
Thankfully, skin cancer is also one of the diseases that can be avoided the most. However, if you do develop it, early detection is essential for effective treatment.
Types of skin cancer
There are many different kinds of skin cancer. The most typical types are:
Basal cell carcinoma
Skin cancer with basal cells is the most prevalent type. Each year, approximately 4.3 million people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. Most of the time, areas of the skin called basal cell skin cancer appear on the head and neck, which are exposed to the most sunlight.
It can spread to other parts of the body if it is not treated. It is more likely to return if it is not removed correctly. If you have one basal cell carcinoma, it is more likely that you will develop another in a different location.
Squamous cell carcinoma
This is the second most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma. About 20% of all skin cancers are squamous cell carcinoma. Additionally, sun-exposed areas like the ears, face, lips, and backs of hands are affected by this kind of skin cancer. Sometimes it appears as sores and scars.
Although rare, squamous cell carcinoma is more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma.
Melanoma is the most fatal but least common type of skin cancer. It is more likely to spread than the two other types of skin cancer that are more prevalent. This kind of skin cancer usually starts in a mole, but it can also show up as a new dark spot on your skin.
Strategies for preventing skin cancer
The majority of people can lower their risk of developing skin cancer by avoiding the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Simple methods for avoiding this include:
When outside, use sunblock with a sun protection factor of at least 15, wear protective clothing like a hat, sunglasses, and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, and stay out of the sun when it is at its strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Importance of regular skin checks
Regular skin checks are important because skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to treat if caught early. Regular at-home skin checks and annual doctor-supervised skin checks are the best ways to catch skin cancer early. If you check your skin on a regular basis, you can find changes that could be early signs of cancer.
When getting ready for a bath or bed, check yourself. Keep an eye out for the following:
- A new mole
- An existing mole that appears to be getting bigger or changing its shape
- A flat red patch
- A brown scaly patch of skin
- A black or brown bump
In addition to regularly monitoring your skin for changes, you should have a dermatologist perform a more comprehensive full-body check and keep track of changes or new growths, freckles, and spots. Those with fair skin or a history of skin cancer may require more frequent examinations because they are at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Call Danvers Family Doctors in Danvers, Massachusetts, or schedule an appointment online to learn more about skin cancer screening.