Skin cancer is the single most common form of cancer in the United States today. There are many precautions one can take to lower the risks of getting skin cancer. It is known that prolonged exposure to the sun or indoor tanning can vastly increase the chances of skin cancer.
Summer is right around the corner, and so is the heat and the sun. Use sunblock with both UVA and UVB protection on a daily basis for a great start. Other preventative measures include wearing wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing, and avoiding the sun between the peak intensity hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer is to have your skin checked annually by a dermatologist. All types of skin cancer can be detected early through annual exams and a biopsy.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common and least invasive form of skin cancer. Once diagnosed, this type of cancer can usually be removed surgically under local anesthesia. Cancerous growths that fit certain criteria – cosmetic location, large size, or recurrent tumor – are best treated with Mohs micrographic surgery.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma, though a more invasive form of skin cancer than basal cell carcinoma, is highly treatable when diagnosed early. This type of skin cancer can also be removed surgically, similar to the removal of basal cell carcinoma.
Malignant Melanoma, though not as common as basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer, is more deadly and is on the rise. There are many subtypes of melanoma, some having a greater likelihood of spreading (metastasizing) to other body sites if not detected early. Once melanoma is diagnosed, a thorough workup is performed and a treatment course is started. All patients with a history of melanoma should have annual skin checks. First degree family members of those with a history of melanoma should also have annual skin checks as there is a genetic component to this form of skin cancer.