Skin Cancer | The Office of Dr. Vincent Hung
3 Min Read
May is skin cancer awareness month. Skin cancer is the most common type, affecting more individuals each year than every other cancer combined. While the survival rate of skin cancer is extremely high, it must be treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes or other organs. If it is not, poses significant risks to your health.
Skin Cancer Facts
One in five people is likely to develop some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. Nearly 9,500 individuals are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, meaning that over three million Americans are diagnosed every year. While there are multiple forms of skin cancer, the most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While melanoma is considered to be the most dangerous type, each one poses a threat and needs to be treated as early as possible.
What Causes Skin Cancer
While some skin cancers develop from the existence of moles, the majority of cases are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation penetrates the top layers of the skin and reaches the deeper layers of the dermis, causing irreversible damage to the cells. Skin cancer develops when the damaged cells are unable to repair themselves.
What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?
While skin cancer can be very serious, it is treatable and survivable when detected early. Your doctor will perform skin checks during your routine appointments but most skin cancers are identified by the patient. Skin cancer is easily identified when you know what to look for.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It typically develops on the areas of the body that get the most sun, such as the face, head, and neck. You should watch for:
- Raised red patches that may itch
- Flat and firm yellow areas
- Translucent, pearly bumps on the skin
- Pink growths with raised edges
- Open sores that do not heal
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinomas are similar to basal cell carcinomas in that they frequently develop on locations that see considerable amounts of sun. Common signs of squamous cell carcinoma include:
- Raised growths or lumps
- Rough or scaly red patches
- Open and oozing sores
- Wart-like growths
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer because it is the type that has the highest risk of spreading to the lymph nodes and other organs. Melanoma is often identified by the irregular shape and color of a growth. Not to be confused with moles or birthmarks, melanomas often appear:
- Asymmetrical, with one side being larger than the other
- To have irregular, notched, or blurred borders,
- To have multiple colors, such as brown, black, pink, red, white, or blue
- Larger than a ¼ inch
- To change their shape, size, or color
How Can You Protect Yourself?
To best protect yourself from skin cancer, you should:
- Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen
- Avoid tanning beds
- Perform self-checks by examining your skin in a well-lit room
- See your doctor immediately if you notice any new spots, spots that look different from others on your body, or sores that do not heal