When skin cancer strikes, it’s always better to detect it early and treat it rapidly. Why? The earlier skin cancers such as Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma are detected, the better your chance of surviving and thriving.
All types of skin cancer are either caused or exacerbated by exposure to ultraviolet light. What is the biggest source of UV light, you ask? You guessed it: the sun! Limiting your exposure to the sun, using SPF of 30 or more every day, and wearing protective clothing are your best bets to avoiding skin cancer.
And, the jury is in: indoor tanning equipment such as tanning beds are NO GOOD! These machines intentionally subject your skin to intense UV light, purely for your looks! The tradeoff is not worth it!
So, now that we know how to prevent skin cancer to the best of our ability, the next question is, how do we know if we have it? As with any other health condition, the key is to know what to look for in terms of signs and symptoms.
Any growth on the body can be a sign of skin cancer. The most troublesome markings include unusual or new moles or birthmarks, or any markings that appear to be growing or changing in size or density over time. These are always worth being examined by a board-certified dermatologist.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most popular form of skin cancer. An estimated 3 million people are diagnosed every year, but early detection has endowed it with a high survival rate. However, Basal Cell Carcinoma can still be extremely hazardous to your health it if is not diagnosed and treated as early as possible.
Basal Cell Carcinoma appears as a red, white, pink, or clear bump or nodule on the skin, sometimes accompanied by bleeding, itching, scaling, and an asymmetrical shape. It can appear anywhere on the body, but appears most often on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second-most common form of skin cancer. It is somewhat more serious than Basal Cell Carcinoma because it affects deeper layers of the skin. Squamous Cell Carcinoma often appears as crusting or bleeding wart-like bumps on areas of raised skin. Sores that bleed and seem to heal but are continually re-opened are common signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Melanoma is the most serious of the three most common skin cancers. Any of the aforementioned symptoms can indicate melanoma, but nearby blood vessels tend to be visible with melanoma. Itching, crusting, flaking, irregular shapes, and painful soreness is also common.
With any skin cancer, the key is early detection and treatment. Many markings on the body are harmless, but some aren’t. Annual visits to a board-certified dermatologist are the best way to make sure you’re protected.