May is skin cancer awareness month. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 5 million diagnosed patients a year. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Although skin cancer has gone rampant in our society, it happens to be one of the most preventable cancers there is.
Raise awareness with us this month and keep reading for more facts about skin cancer and what you can do to prevent it.
Melanoma vs. Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
What’s the difference? Melanoma skin cancer is the most aggressive and difficult to treat. Melanoma occurs in the lowest cells of the epidermis and is very likely to spread to other parts of the body. Possible signs include a change in growth or pigment of a mole or growth. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common and is also the easiest cancer to treat when spotted early. This type of skin cancer rarely ever spreads to other parts of the body and can be detected by changes in color or texture of the skin.
More than two-thirds of nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. If you know you’re going to be in the sun, plan your sun protection. During midday hours, seek shade and wear a hat to cover your face, ears, neck, and chest. And always, every day (even when not enjoying outside activities), wear sunscreen. Sunscreen should be at least 30 broad spectrum SPF and applied every two hours when swimming or sweating.
A skin cancer self-exam should be done once a month to ensure that you are cancer free and no developing any new lesions. Keep an eye out for new moles and growth, and any existing growth that begins to grow or change. If you notice lesions that are changing, itching, or bleeding, these can be signs of skin cancer. These skin growths can appear to be black, brown, tan, translucent, pearly, or multicolored.
The most important step in a self-exam is not delaying if you begin to suspect something. No questions or concerns are unimportant, and if you have found a suspicious lesion on your body, get it checked as soon as possible.
Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of every spot and mole on your body. A body map is used to document freckles, moles, lesions, and any other spot on your body. Be sure to document the date, size, color, and texture of each spot. Then, when you do your next self-check you will be positive if a new lesion is forming or has popped up.
Yearly Dermatologist Appointments
Dermatologist visits aren’t just for current skin issues, they are a preventative measure that everyone should participate in. This May we’re offering free skin cancer screenings for our new patients! We recommend getting a thorough screening done once a year by a professional. If one of our Doctors does find anything that needs to be removed, an additional appointment will have to be made.
Now that you are more educated on skin cancer, be alert and proactive against it. Spread the word and share our blog with your family and friends during this year’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month. For any questions or concerns, request an appointment with a skin cancer specialist now.