May marks the beginning of summer, and in an attempt to beat the heat, our dress may become minimal during this toasty season. However, too little protection from the sun could result in a devastating disease known as skin cancer.
May is also designated as National Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than three million new diagnoses each year. Refresh and expand your knowledge of the disease by reading up on our eight things to know about skin cancer below:
1. Skin is the body’s most important organ. Many may not realize that skin is actually an organ that provides protection from external disease-producing agents, regulates our body temperature, synthesizes Vitamin D, gives us the sense of touch, and rids our body of waste.
2. Skin cancer is most common on the face, neck, hands, arms, and legs, although it can occur anywhere on the body. Skin cancer is unique from other cancers because it can be visible to the naked eye, but unless you pay careful attention to your habits and body, skin cancer can easily be missed.
The three common types of skin cancer are…
3. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) accounts for 80 percent of all skin cancer. However, many people are unfamiliar with the condition. BCC is characterized by uncontrolled cellular growth in the deepest layer of the skin’s epidermis. BCC tends to look like a pimple that bleeds easily and doesn’t go away. If it continues to grow, it can cause destruction and disfigurement to surrounding tissues.
4. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth in the skin’s upper layers. SCC often resembles large craters or warts. Typically larger than an inch initially, the growth continues as the disease progresses. Though it happens rarely, infected cells sometimes spread to other areas of the body.
5. Although the most infamous of skin cancers, melanoma is surprisingly not common. Melanoma is an excessive growth in the cells that control the skin’s pigments and may be distinguished by the presence of unfamiliar brown or black lesions on the skin. Untreated it is highly likely to spread quickly to other organs.
6. There are several risk factors that increase risk of skin cancer.Those who have a personal or family history of skin cancer, light skin and/or freckles, and low immune systems are at risk. Frequent exposure to the sun, a history of sunburns, and an affinity for tanning beds are preventable risky behaviors.
7. Five signs of skin cancer are known as the ABCDE’s.
Asymmetry, where one half of the mole is different than the other half.
Borders that are irregular, scalloped or poorly defined.
Color variations between areas of the mole, with shades of tan and brown, black, white, red or blue.
Diameters that are the size of a pencil eraser or larger. However, be aware that some melanomas can be smaller.
Evolving, when a mole appears different from the rest or is changing in size, shape and color.
8. Skin cancer can sometimes be prevented. Packing on SPF15+ moisturizer and SPF30+ sunscreen can shield against the sun’s harsh rays. Also, plan to wear protective clothing if you expect to spend long days in the sun. Tanning beds are never recommended by skincare professionals.
Prevention is the best method of protection in the fight against skin cancer. We recommend regular skin checks that can screen for the presence of skin cancer. If you are worried about your risk of developing skin cancer or believe you may be affected, please schedule an appointment with the experts at Avail Dermatology by giving us a call at 770.251.5111.