Raise your skin cancer awareness – News Block

May is skin cancer awareness month. Increase your knowledge (and awareness) of skin cancer types, warning signs, symptoms, and perhaps most importantly, how to reduce your risk of developing this type of condition.

Raise your skin cancer awareness

3 most common types of skin cancer

While there are several different types of skin cancer, the Association of the American Academy of Dermatology reports that the three most common are: (1)

  1. Basal cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer is often caused by spending a lot of time in the sun or in a tanning bed or booth. Although it can appear in any area of ​​the body, basal cell carcinoma is most often located on the head, neck, and arms. If left untreated, it can damage nerves and bones, and even cause disfigurement.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer also tends to develop on areas of the body with the most sun exposure, including the face, neck, and ears, as well as the arms, chest, and back. Dry, scaly patches on the skin (called actinic keratoses) can develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Like basal cell carcinoma, this skin cancer can grow deep, causing damage and disfigurement.
  3. Melanoma. Because melanoma often spreads, it is considered the most serious type of skin cancer that you can get. Early diagnosis of this cancer is critical, as it also allows you to receive early treatment.

Three types of skin cancer.

Other types of skin cancer include Merkel cell carcinoma, lymphoma of the skin, and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Although more rare (2), it is possible to develop one of these conditions, requiring the need for treatment.

What does skin cancer look like?

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends having your skin checked by a dermatologist once a year. (3) However, it’s also helpful to check your skin regularly to see if you notice any differences or potential problem areas.

What are you looking for?

The early stages of skin cancer can look like a lump, rash, or patchy area of ​​skin. Other things to keep in mind may vary depending on the type of skin cancer. (1)

For example, basal cell carcinoma is often a spot that is pearly, pink, or even fleshy in color.

What does basal cell carcinoma look like?

Squamous cell carcinoma can be a scaly patch or a firm red bump. A sore that reopens after healing may also be a squamous cell carcinoma. As mentioned, actinic keratoses can develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, you should also be on the lookout for dry patches.

Melanoma usually looks like a mole that has changed. Although, sometimes it can appear as a new mole or a dark spot that wasn’t there before.

One way to easily remember the warning signs or symptoms of skin cancer is with “ABCDEs of melanoma,” which are: (4)

  • A – asymmetry: if one side of the place in question is different from the other
  • B – edge: if the edge of the stain is irregular or notched
  • C-color: whether the spot has multiple colors, variations of the same color, or changes color as it grows
  • D – diameter or dark: if the stain is as large or larger than a pencil eraser, or if it is darker than the other stains
  • E – evolving: if the spot changes in any way, including if it starts to bleed, itch, or crust over

The first signs of melanoma.

How is skin cancer diagnosed?

If you notice a blemish that may be skin cancer, the next step is to make an appointment with a dermatologist or your primary care provider. They may remove all or part of the spot and do a biopsy to find out if it’s cancerous (if they’re concerned about its appearance or changes).

If the biopsy reveals that you have skin cancer, your health care provider will likely want to determine what stage it is in (there are five stages in all). Tests used to determine the stage of this type of skin cancer include CT and PET scans, chest x-rays, and ultrasound scans. (5)

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Depending on the type and stage of skin cancer, recommended treatment options may vary. The eight standard treatments for skin cancer are: (5)

  1. drug therapy
  2. chemical peels
  3. surgery
  4. radiation
  5. chemotherapy
  6. immunotherapy
  7. targeted therapy
  8. photodynamic therapy (which combines light therapy with drugs designed to kill cancer cells)

How to protect yourself from skin cancer

Perhaps the best reason to raise your skin cancer awareness is to learn about steps you can take to prevent it. Recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include: (6)

  • wear clothing and equipment to protect your skin from the sun
  • stay in the shade when you can
  • use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
  • do not use indoor tanning beds and booths

It may also be beneficial to take a dietary supplement. For example, studies have found that vitamin D appears to help protect against skin cancer. (7) Vitamin A also seems to have the same effect. (8) Natural Wellness offers a product called Hair, Skin & Nails, which contains several vitamins and minerals designed to help maintain skin health.

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