Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, affecting more than three million people in the United States alone. As summer nears and more time is spent outdoors, HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital is providing important information about how to detect and prevent skin cancer.
Three Forms of Skin Cancer
To better detect skin cancer, it is important to understand the three forms of skin cancer:
1. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 96,480 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. and an estimated 7,230 people will die from the disease in 2019. Melanoma will look like a new mole that has an unusual appearance. The mole can have ragged and uneven edges with shades ranging from black to tan. The biggest indicator of melanoma is if the mole is constantly changing.
2. Basal cell is caused by sun exposure and can also develop in those who have received radiation therapy as a child. Basal cell carcinoma will look like a reddish patch on the skin that is itchy but barely hurts. It may look like a pink, red or white growth with an undefined border. Basal cell spots can become an open sore that bleeds or crusts without closing for several weeks.
3. Squamous cell is usually caused by sun exposure and can be seen on different parts of the skin. Squamous cell is a wart-like growth that has a rough surface and a central depression. This form of skin cancer can also develop sores that stay open for weeks.
The Risk Factors
Although those with fair skin types are more likely to burn by sun exposure and have a higher risk of skin cancer, any skin color can be affected by skin cancer. Other risk factors include:
· Long periods of sun exposure (UVA)
· Tanning bed use
· History of sunburns
· Have had skin cancer before
· Weakened or suppressed immune system
· Family history of skin cancer
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
· Limit sun exposure of both UVA and UVB rays
· Never use tanning beds (no amount of exposure is safe)
· Wear sun-protective clothing
· Wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or more
· Conduct regular self-examinations of your skin
It is important to talk with your doctor right way if you notice any changes in your skin or moles. For more sun and summer safety tips, please visit: www.cancer.org/cancer/skin-cancer/prevention-and-early-detection.html.