After a long winter, the summer is a welcome sight! But more fun in the sun can have a price unless you take extra precautions to protect your skin. Almost one in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in his or her lifetime. As many as 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed every day. And anyone can get skin cancer – regardless of skin color!
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., but there is good news. It’s also the most preventable type of cancer, and it’s highly treatable if caught early.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and to kick it off we’re answering your most common questions about skin cancer detection.
What does skin cancer look like?
Skin cancer can appear in different ways on the body. Some look like a:
- Mole that appears differently than others on your body or it’s notably changing
- Scaly patch
- Dome-shaped growth
- Sore that heals and returns or a non-healing sore
- Spot that itches or bleeds
You could also see how if it fits the ABC’s of skin cancer signs.
How do I know if I have skin cancer?
Skin cancer generally begins where you can see it. Take the time to examine your entire body. That includes from parting your hair to check all of your scalp to looking at the skin in between your toes and the bottoms of your feet.
We recommend you check monthly, so you’re more likely to notice changes in any moles or growths. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has created a body mole map to keep track of all of your spots along with any changes. Print it out and keep it handy during your self-examinations.
What are the types of skin cancer?
There are many types of skin cancer, and some are more common than others. Click on the cancer type to learn more about it on the AAD’s website.
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Sebaceous carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
I have a suspicious spot. What do I do next?
See a dermatologist! Only a skin biopsy will determine if the spot is skin cancer. If it is determined to be skin cancer, your dermatologist will consult with you about your type of skin cancer and the best treatment options.
Columbia Skin Clinic has a board-certified Mohs surgeon on staff who can perform the most effective method of skin cancer removal. Mohs surgery offers up to a 99.9% cure rate for the two most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).
Schedule a skin exam today! And check back this month for more information on how to prevent skin cancer.