We hear so much about very dangerous forms for cancer such as when the disease strikes a breast, the liver, the colon or the lungs. But what often is overlooked is that skin cancer is the most common cancer found in America. For that reason, skin cancer awareness is important, because you’ll learn how this disease develops, what it looks like, how to prevent it and how to treat it.
Skin cancer awareness: How do people get skin cancer?
While the abnormal growth of cells known as “cancer” can develop in many ways, cancer on the skin is most often caused by excess, unprotected exposure to the sun. The irony of skin cancer is that a huge percentage of the cases could have been prevented with the easiest cancer awareness step of all: use sunblock and keep uncovered areas of the body protected when out in the sun for extended periods.
How can I tell if I have skin cancer?
Only a physician can accurately diagnose skin cancer, but there are signs you can look for on your own:
- Flat, firm areas on the skin that resemble a scar
- Red patches that are raised and itchy
- Small, translucent bumps that might have brown, black or blue areas
- Rough, scaly patches
- Open sores with crusty areas that heal and come back or don’t heal at all
These and other appearances are common for the more-prevalent but less-dangerous basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. The most dangerous form of skin cancer is called melanoma.
Follow the A-B-C-D-E rule for spotting signs of melanoma on your skin:
Asymmetry: moles or birthmarks with one side shaped differently from the other
Border: moles with irregular or jagged borders
Color: melanoma may appear with different colors, commonly brown or black, within a mole or spot
Diameter: most melanoma appears in spots that are larger than 1/4 inch across
Evolving: the mole or spot evolves in shape and size over time
Even with the most fastidious prevention measures, skin cancer can form. This is why part of a healthy skin cancer awareness program includes periodic visual evaluation of your skin, particularly areas that have received a lot of sun.
What to do if you suspect you have skin cancer
The earlier you catch skin cancer, the better. If you have areas on your skin that you worry may be the early stages of cancer, your very first step is to see a licensed dermatologist for a thorough skin cancer screening. Your doctor will then be able to help you make the best and most effective treatment decisions.
Contact DermSurgery Associates of Houston to schedule your annual skin check, or to arrange for your first screening if you’ve never done it before. Call (713) 791-9966.
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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures. For more information, contact
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030