Summertime often means more hours spent in the sun, but it also means increased exposure to deadly UV rays that cause skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer worldwide, with one in five Americans developing a cancerous spot by age 70. Although more than two people will die from skin cancer every hour, many are still uneducated about the disease.
We’re breaking down the basics of skin cancer so you can take precautions to protect both yourself and your loved ones.
There are three primary types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma, Melanoma, and Squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
This type of cancer appears on sun-exposed areas like the face and neck. It’s the most common type of skin cancer and occurs when a basal cell replaces a dead skin cell with new, cancerous ones. In BCC the cancerous cells originate in the lower layers of the epidermis and rarely spread to other parts of the body.
Luckily, when caught early, it can be treated with a topical cream, but otherwise, the cancerous cells can be removed via surgery.
What to look for:
- A waxy bump
- A flat scar-like lesion that is either brown or flesh-colored
- A reoccurring bleeding or scabbing sore
This is likely the skin cancer that you’re most familiar with. Melanoma can develop anywhere on your body — even over a pre-existing mole that was formerly noncancerous. Although the vast majority of melanoma is caused by the sun (with one study citing up to 86% of cases), it’s possible to develop melanoma even if you’re staying safe.
While it may be easy to spot on those with a lighter complexion, melanoma can affect people of any skin tone. However, in people with darker skin tones, melanoma tends to occur on the palms or soles, instead of the trunk, legs, or face.
Similar to BCC, the survival rate when detected early is high, but it’s important to have regular skin checks to ensure healthy skin. To put things in perspective, it is predicted that 6,850 people will die of melanoma in 2020.
Melanoma signs include:
- A large brown spot with dark speckles
- A mole that changes in color, size or texture
- A small lesion with an irregular border
- A painful or dark lesion
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure (UV) radiation from the sun, and SCC is no exception. SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer (following BCC) with more than one million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. T
his particular type of skin cancer is most likely to develop on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, and ears, and can be extremely deadly if not treated early. More than 15,000 people die of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in the U.S. each year, which is more than twice as many as from melanoma.
SCC signs include:
- A firm, red nodule
- A flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
While it’s important to wear SPF every day, staying educated and getting regular check-ups is just as significant. We’re here and ready to help you stay safe and healthy, no matter the UV index.
Give us a call to set up your skin check: (727) 545-3376.