It’s National Cancer Prevention Month: Recognize the Signs of Skin Cancer
- Posted on: Feb 25 2021
February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and we’re acknowledging its importance by helping people understand how to reduce their risk of skin cancer. Although it’s the most common type of cancer, with early detection and proper skin cancer treatment, it has a very high cure rate. Find out how taking a few protective measures can lower your risk, and learn more about the symptoms and types of skin cancer.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
We recommend adopting these healthy habits to protect your skin and reduce your risk of skin cancer:
• Wear a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen
Whenever you’re going to be outside, be sure to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all skin that’s not covered by clothing. This type of sunscreen provides protection from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Reapply it if you’ve been outside for longer than two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
• Wear Appropriate Clothing
The right clothing can provide protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Try to wear lightweight, breathable clothing during the day that covers your arms and legs. A wide-brimmed hat can provide shade for your face, neck, ears, and eyes. For added protection, wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Seek Shade When Possible
The sun’s intensity is the strongest during the midday hours, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM. Try to seek shade as much as possible during these hours.
• Avoid Tanning Beds
Just like the sun, tanning beds expose your skin to ultraviolet light, which increases your risk of skin cancer and causes premature aging. Choose a sunless tanner if you’re looking for a healthy, bronzed glow.
• Check Your Skin Regularly
Conducting regular examinations of your skin is an essential step in detecting irregularities that could indicate cancer. We recommend checking your skin from head-to-toe once a month, especially if you have a history of cancer, sunburns, or frequent tanning. When examining your skin, try to become familiar with the pattern of moles and freckles you have since this makes it easier to identify any changes.
• See Your Dermatologist for Annual Skin Exams
At Asarch Dermatology, we encourage all of our patients to receive an annual skin check. Seeing your dermatologist once a year can allow you receive an early diagnosis if cancer does develop. Early diagnosis is crucial to successful skin cancer treatment. During this thorough and comprehensive full-body exam, your dermatologist carefully examines your skin to identify any new moles, growths, spots, or other changes that could indicate different types of cancer.
Know These Skin Cancer Symptoms
Since not all skin cancers look the same, any type of change in your skin could be a sign of the disease. Skin cancer symptoms include any change in a mole, a new growth, or a sore that doesn’t heal. If you notice any spots or marks that bleed, crust, itch, scab, or hurt, or if you notice any other abnormal or suspicious marks on your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist right away.
Melanoma is considered the most serious type of skin cancer. To help you recognize the signs of melanoma, remember the ABCDE rules when checking your skin:
• Asymmetry: Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two halves that look very different?
• Border: Melanomas often have an uneven or jagged border. Normal spots and moles have smoother, even borders.
• Color: Healthy moles are typically a single shade of brown, but melanoma can appear as multiple colors, including different shades of tan, black, or brown. Shades of blue, white, or red may also appear.
• Diameter: A warning sign of melanoma is any mole or lesion that’s larger than a pea or pencil eraser.
• Evolving: If you’ve noticed any recent change in a spot or mole, such as changes in size, color, shape, or feel, visit your dermatologist promptly.
What Are the Types of Skin Cancer?
Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are the three most common types of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma can appear as a shiny bump or nodule, a small pink growth, or an open sore that doesn’t heal. The sore may have an indentation in the center with noticeable blood vessels. Squamous cell carcinoma varies in appearance and can appear as an open sore, scaly red patch, or a thickened, raised lesion. Early signs of melanoma include a mole that doesn’t look like any other mole or spot on your skin, a mole or spot with an odd shape, different colors, or a mole that is growing.
If you’d like to schedule a skin exam with one of the board-certified dermatologists at Asarch Dermatology, please contact us today to make an appointment.
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