Cancer Detection

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General Overview

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to, more than 3.5 million skin cancer cases in over two million people are diagnosed annually.

The sad truth is that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Over the past three decades, more people have had a type of skin cancer appear on their body than all other types of cancers combined. About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers can be attributed to over-exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radition (UV rays).

Often, skin cancer is the easiest form of cancer to find and to treat, even early malignant melanoma skin cancers have a better prognosis, when detected, diagnosed, and treated early.

Types of Skin Cancer

Here are three of the most common types of skin cancer:

Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer. It can grow very quickly and can be life-threatening in as little as six weeks. This type of skin cancer can also spread to other parts of the body. However, this type of skin cancer can be treated when diagnosed early enough.

Basal Cell Carcinoma
Most common yet least dangerous form of skin cancer. It appears as a lump or a dry, scaly lesion area around the neck. It can look like an open sore with red patches or little bumps or growths.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This type of skin cancer is the second most common kind. It’s not quite as dangerous as melanoma but it can spread to other parts of the body if not treated. It a ppears as a thickend, red, scaly spot that can easily bleed or re-open after crusting.


Skin Exams

A yearly full skin exam, a mole check, by a Dermatologist is recommended for all person’s 40 yrs old and up and people with sun damaged skin, many moles, and other skin conditions should start younger.

Self-examinations of the skin can be performed regularly to look for skin growths, any new moles or existing ones that have changed color, increased in size, thickness, and/or texture. Other things to look for include spots or sores that continue to itch, scab, hurt or bleed, and sores that do not heal within three weeks.

Below is a chart of what to look for when you’re conducting a home self-examination of your body:

The ABCDEs of Skin Exams

Cancer Screenings

When you are at your dermatologist for cancer screening, he or she will ask you for your medical history, followed by a head-to-toe skin exam. Dermatologists are trained to to diagnose, manage, and treat skin cancers.

This video explores the difference between MOLES and MELANOMA (Credit – “The Doctors”)

During this time, it would be recommended that you ask questions about what to look for when you perform self-exams. Any spots that the doctor suspects to be cancerous will be biopsied. When a skin tissue is biopsied, it is sent to a lab where a pathologist examines the sample, then either refutes or confirms the dermatologist’s suspicions.


Here are some other ways you can to reduce the chances of getting skin cancer:

-Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths

-When you go out into the sun, cover up your skin with clothing, hats, and UV-blocking sunglasses

-Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher every day

Online Resources for Skin Cancer

Please click on the links below for more information about other resources pertaining to skin cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation

The leading skin cancer prevention and information organization. Physician-approved medical information on symptoms and treatments, as well as photos.

The American Academy of Dermatology

The American Academy of Dermatology was founded in 1938. It is the largest, most influential and representative dermatology group in the United States. With a membership of more than 19,000, it represents virtually all practicing dermatologists in the United States, as well as a growing number of international dermatologists.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has been a trusted resource for the nation’s skin cancer prevention community since 1998.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health, safety, and security threats.

Cancer Care

Founded in 1944, CancerCare® is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer.

Cancer Support Community

Providing professional programs of emotional support, education and hope for people impacted by cancer at no charge so that no one faces cancer alone.