Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to Skincancer.org, 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. Two of the most common forms of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. 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.
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.
|The ABCDEs of Skin Exams|
At the Doctor’s Office
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.
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.
What You Can Do to Help Prevent Skin Cancer
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