Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Cancer Early Detection

Skin cancer is on the rise and there are so many different types of skin cancer.  Each year in the US, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer. Throughout the past 3 decades, people have developed skin cancer more than all other cancers combined.  It has been proven that 1 out of 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. So what are the different types of skin cancer and how can you detect if something is wrong?

Types Of Skin Cancer

Actinic Keratoses (AK) are scaly, crusty growths or lesions caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays.  AK will be red, tan, pink or flesh colored and are raised and resemble warts.  They are most commonly found on the backs of the hands, face, lips and bald scalp.  These are considered precancer because they can develop into squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma which are skin cancers.  AK can be eliminated by a doctor through freezing them off using liquid nitrogen or through topical prescription topical medications.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays.  It is the most common form of skin cancer.  BCC are growths or lesions that form in the basal cell. Basal cells line the deepest layer of the epidermis which is the outer part of the skin.  BCC’s look like red patches, shiny bumps, open sores, or pink growths.  Basal cell carcinoma does not spread and are usually not considered life threatening but they are very disfiguring.  A biopsy is performed by a doctor to determine if the lesion is cancer and can usually be treated on an outpatient basis in a physician’s office.  There are many different ways to get rid of basal cell carcinoma depending on the size and location.  These treatments range from topical medications, freezing, laser and cutting the cancer out of the skin.  Always ask your physician which method is best for you.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a common type of skin cancer.  It is the second most common type, which is caused by UV rays from the sun.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma refers to an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the squamous cells located in the epidermis.  SCC’s are red scaly patches, open sores, warts, or elevated growths with a central depression and they may bleed.  Not only can this type of skin cancer be disfiguring but it can also be deadly.  SCC’s can be found anywhere on the body but are most common on face, head, arms and legs.  Most SCC’s if caught early on can be eliminated before they have the chance to spread to lymph nodes and organs making it fatal.  A biopsy will be performed by a physician and just like Basal Cell Carcinoma most procedures to remove Squamous Cell Carcinoma can be done outpatient in a physician’s office.  Treatment options can vary from laser, topical medications, cutting the lesion out of the skin, freezing and more advanced SCC’s may require radiation based on size, location, depth of penetration in the skin and the patients’ health.

Melanoma can be a deadly type of skin cancer.  Melanoma is caused by UV radiation from the sun and tanning bed that damage the skin cells and cause mutations that make the skin cells multiply rapidly forming malignant tumors.  Tumors begin in the epidermis , in the basal layer, and usually resemble moles usually brown or black but can also be skin-colored, red, white, purple, pink, or blue.  There are 4 stages of melanoma and treatment can be minor to extremely aggressive based on those stages and ranging from minor surgery to chemo therapy and radiation.  Melanoma can become deadly once it reaches lymph nodes or other organs in the body.

The best way to prevent skin cancer from forming is to use a broad spectrum sunscreen daily and make sure to reapply throughout the day.  Doctors and scientist all over the world have proven sunscreen prevents skin cancer through many studies. Perform regular self-examinations from head to toe on your body and go to the dermatologist at least once a year to have freckles, beauty marks and moles checked out, especially if you have fair skin.