Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, probably making up more than half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The incidence of skin cancer is rising dramatically in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, accounting for more than 75 percent of all deaths from skin cancer, about 8,700 last year alone.
With early detection, melanoma is highly curable. “The average five-year survival rate for individuals whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent,” cites the AAD. They also say that there is a direct correlation between the thickness of the melanoma and survival rate.
Preventative screenings save lives period. If you’ve been putting off your annual skin exam, don’t delay any longer. It is also recommended that you examine your own skin for abnormalities, preferably once a month. If you find anything suspicious, make an appointment with your health care professional. Skin cancer is more common in men, so be sure to encourage the males in your life to get screenings as well.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer today, and the number of cases continues to grow. Although awareness campaigns continually discuss the dangers of prolonged sun exposure and the importance of using sunscreen, much of the population doesn’t possess an understanding of just how important early detection is to surviving this prevalent type of cancer. It is extremely beneficial to know about the disease, the importance of annual skin cancer screenings and ways you can monitor yourself at home for warning signs.
About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is most treatable the earlier it is detected. Skin cancer can spread to other areas of the body rapidly. The fatality rate increases in conjunction with the depth that the cancer spreads. Anyone who encounters exposure to the sun is at risk. Virtually no one is immune from the chances of acquiring the disease.
There are four types of skin cancer that are most frequently seen. Melanoma is the deadliest. Actinic keratosis (AK) are precancerous skin lesions, usually pinkish gray in color and may be scaly. Basal skin carcinoma (BCC) looks like a scab, but it doesn’t seem to heal. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is similar to BCC in that it can look a bit like a scab.
It grows near the top layer of skin and can take on a number of difference appearances, including open sores, scaly red patches, warts or elevated growths. If caught early, the vast majority of those with AK, BCC and SCC will fully recover. Melanoma is more difficult to treat.
What to Expect from Annual Skin Cancer Screenings
Our physician will likely give you a full body visual exam to look for signs, such as abnormal growths, asymmetric moles or other unusual blemishes. The appointment usually takes between 15 minutes and a half hour. Expect it to take more time if you have a lot of freckles or moles to examine.
Areas prone to skin cancer lesions are the scalp, between the toes, near the buttocks, in the groin region, behind the ears and between the toes. These places will receive more focus. If any troublesome spots are found, further testing, such as a biopsy, may be required. Seeing a certified dermatologist yearly for screenings is standard, but more frequent visits are recommended for those who have been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past.
Now that you are aware of the signs of skin cancer and the areas where it tends to grow, you can make an effort to check yourself for signs at home. About once each season is sufficient for most. Monthly is best if you have a history of skin cancer. Keep a log book of observations to be aware of any changes. Drastic growths or changes in color warrant an appointment with our dermatologist.
Schedule Your Skin Cancer Screening Today
Awareness and annual skin cancer screenings are the key to skin cancer survival. With locations in Coral Springs and Sunrise, Dermatology Consultants of South Florida and Spa Cosmedica and Laser Center is here to help. Be sure to talk to our board-certified dermatologist about any concerns you may have. Catching skin cancer early could save your life. Contact us today to schedule your skin cancer screening.
Melanoma Warning Signs
The Melissa K. Bambino Melanoma Foundation sites these melanoma warning signs on its website:
- Enlarging pigmented spot or mole
- Changes in color of an existing mole
- Changes in characteristics of skin over the pigmented spot, such as changes in size or shape
- Bleeding or breaking open
Also, you can use the A-B-C-D-E guide developed by the American Academy of Dermatology:
One half unlike the other half
B. BORDER Irregular:
Scalloped or poorly circumscribed border
C. COLOR Varied:
From one area to another, shades of brown and tan; black; sometimes white, red or blue
Larger than 6mm as a rule (diameter of a pencil eraser)
A mole or skin lesion that looks different than the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Warning Signs
There are many types of non-melanoma cancers, but the two most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year, leading to about 2,000 deaths. According to the AAD, these are the early signs to be on the lookout for:
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most common type of skin cancer. It most often appears on skin that gets lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and arms, but can appear elsewhere as well.
It may look like a:
- Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
- Flesh-colored (or pink, red or brown) pearl-shaped lump
- Pimple that just won’t clear
- Sore that bleeds, heals and then returns
- Scar that feels waxy may be skin-colored, white or yellow
- Group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths look like sores, often scaly and bleed easily
- Flat or sunken growth feels hard, may be white or yellow
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
This common type of skin cancer often appears on skin that got lots of sun, such as an ear, face, bald scalp, neck or arm, but it can appear elsewhere on the body as well.
SCC often has a reddish color and often has the following characteristics:
- Hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch or pearl-shaped growth
- Open sore that itches and bleeds; it can heal and return
- Scaly patch on the lip; skin on the lip can get thick
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