Covered, but Not Forgotten: Skin Cancer 101
Little known fact: according to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. With more than 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed each year, who exactly is at risk? Simply put: everyone. Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells that typically appears on areas of your skin that are most exposed to the harmful UV radiation of the sun and does not discriminate on who it affects. At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta (DAA) our providers take skin cancer very seriously and so should each and every person.
Men and women of all ages and skin tones are susceptible to developing skin cancer at some point in their lives. While prevention is a great way to reduce your chance of skin cancer, unless you know the signs to look for, skin cancer can take many different forms and can sometimes disguise itself as common freckles or moles. There are three main types of skin cancer:
- • Basal Cell Carcinoma: An easily treatable and rarely advancing form of skin cancer, unless left untreated. Basal cells resemble sores that fail to heal or pearly lesions that sometimes bleed or crust that can form on the head, neck or shoulders.
- • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Prolonged time spent outdoors causes damaged cells to resemble red, scaling/thickening patches of skin and most frequently seen on sun-exposed parts of the skin.
- • Melanoma: The most aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma spots are dark (generally brown or black lesions) and can rapidly spread and change in size, shape, elevation or color. If not detected early, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and can be deadly.
So what should you look for? The ABCDEs of melanoma are an easy way to monitor any new or pre-existing spots that appear on your body and are good questions to ask yourself and be aware of when you perform a self-exam on your body:
- • A for Asymmetry: Do the borders match up?
- • B for Borders: Are they irregular?
- • C for Colors: Are you noticing red, pink or even white colors to your spots?
- • D for Diameter: How big is the spot in question? Has it recently grown in size?
- • E for Evolution: Is the spot changing in size and color?
Skin cancer prevention can start with a few quick and simple steps. First, be sure to wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 when outdoors. Secondly, body checks are a must. Scaly, rough sun spots, also known as actinic keratosis, are often easily overlooked and while not all types of sun spots lead to cancer, they can mask the progress of developing cancer if they go undetected. Unless you are actually aware of the spots that are on your body, it’s important to schedule annual body checks with a board-certified dermatologist because if detected early, skin cancer is curable! At DAA we recommend that you have a complete body skin cancer check every year to examine any changes with your skin. Additionally, we offer a variety of skin cancer treatments to quickly and effectively target skin cancer.
If you’d like learn more on sun-safe practices or would like to schedule your skin cancer check, don’t wait! Give us a call at 404-256-4457 today or contact us for more information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for even more tips and news on head-to-toe skin care.