“Cancer” is a scary word, and it should be. But skin cancer is one of the most successfully treated cancers in America.
One thing that makes it so easy (relatively speaking) to treat is that it is external; it is detectable by the naked eye, without blood tests, scans, or surgeries. That’s right; you have the power to catch skin cancer in its early stages.
In fact, half of all melanomas that are diagnosed in the United States are first discovered by the patient themselves. Not a doctor, not a test; just by self-examining the skin, knowing what to look for, and seeing a board-certified dermatologist to assess the situation.
The symptoms of skin cancer include the appearance of a new mole or multiple moles, discoloration or growth of existing moles, and itching or bleeding sores or lesions that refuse to heal.
Does that mole on your back feel larger than it used to? Is there a sudden “birthmark” on your forehead that has grown larger over the past year? How about an odd bump in the groin region or even inside your mouth that just seems….off?
Any of these occurrences could be signs of skin cancer. It’s important to remember that 3 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year. That’s 9,500 new cases every day. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, “it is estimated that melanoma will affect 1 in 27 men and 1 in 40 women in their lifetime.”
That’s a lot. So it is best not to assume “it can’t happen to me.” It can.
The good news is that skin cancer is highly treatable. The five-year survival rate for melanoma patients whose condition was detected early is 99%, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The key is not to be afraid of a skin cancer diagnosis, but to be proactive.
Perform regular self-exams. Look for any suspicious growths or new moles. Visit a board-certified dermatologist every year for an annual full-body exam. Wear sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoid tanning beds.
Cancer is scary, but don’t let skin cancer scare you. The power of prevention is in your hands. We can help.