What causes skin cancer?
Sun damage causes skin cancer. Most sun damage occurs before the age of thirty. Ultraviolet light damages the DNA in skin cells which causes the skin cells to grow uncontrollably.
How can I reduce my risk for skin cancer?
- Stay out of the sun from 10-4.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure.
- Where sun screen daily. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
- Seek shade.
- Where clothing to cover your skin.
- Avoid getting a sunburn.
- Check your skin monthly for any new growths or changes to existing moles, bumps birthmarks, and freckles. Report changes to your dermatologist.
Why is early detection so important?
The earlier a skin cancer is detected the more easily it can be treated; and the more likely you can avoid disfigurement and the spread of the cancer to nearby tissues and body organs.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
The appearance of the skin lesion or changes in appearance are signals that it should be checked by your dermatologist. A skin biopsy will confirm the diagnosis.
What are the warning signs of skin cancer?
Cardinal signs of skin cancer are a new mole or growth, or changes in an existing mole or growth. Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma typically appear on sun exposed areas of the body. Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body. Men develop melanoma on their face or trunk. Women typically develop melanoma on their lower legs even where the skin is not exposed to the sun.
What is basal cell skin cancer and what does it look like?
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer responsible for 80% of all skin cancers. It is causes by prolonged exposure to the sun’s Ultraviolet rays that damage the DNA of skin cells. It usually develops on the neck, chest or face, scalp, lips, ears, arms, hands and legs.
BCC may look like a shiny pimple, a rough red patch of skin or a sore that won’t heal or that bleeds. BCCs grow on sun exposed areas. They grow slowly but if left untreated can spread to nearby areas. When treated with Mohs surgery there is a 99% cure rate.
What is squamous cell skin cancer and what does it look like?
SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer. It is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays that damages the DNA of skin cells. SCC can form on the back, shoulders, hands, ears, scalp, face, neck and lips but also inside the mouth and on the genitals. If treated early, it is not life threatening. But it can be disfiguring and spread to other areas of the body.
SCCs looks like crusted red nodules or scaly skin and even open sores on sun exposed skin, inside the mouth or on the genitals. Treatment with Mohs surgery provides a 97% success rate. Excision has a 92% cure rate.
What is melanoma and what does it look like?
Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer that develop anywhere on your body and can spread to other parts of the body. It is caused by Ultraviolet sun damage and is directly related to sunburns. Your risk depends on your family history. People with blue or green eyes are at higher risk than people with brown eyes. People with blond or red hair are at increased risk.
Melanoma can start in an existing mole that changes shape, color or size, bleeds or is painful, develop as a new mole that grows rapidly, or a dark streak under a finger nail or toe nail. When detected early it is treatable. Five-year survival is 99% when it has not spread to lymph nodes. When it has spread to the lymph nodes the five-year survival rate is 63%.
How can I tell if I have melanoma?
Conduct monthly self-exams using the ABCDEs to identify moles that change color, shape or size, and any growths that itch, burn or bleed. when you find a suspicious lesion, see your dermatologist. The sooner you identify and treat suspicious lesions the more likely you can be cured.