Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but fortunately, it’s also one of the most treatable when caught early. Known as the “cancer you can see,” skin cancer often presents visible signs that, if recognized promptly, can lead to early intervention and successful treatment. Understanding the types of skin cancer, recognizing early warning signs and taking preventive measures are key to safeguarding your health.

Types of Skin Cancer

The 3 main types of skin cancer are:

1.    Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): The most common type, BCC usually appears as a slightly transparent bump on the skin, though it can take other forms. It’s slow-growing and rarely spreads but requires treatment to prevent damage to surrounding tissue.

2.    Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): This type often appears as a red, scaly patch or a sore that heals and then reopens. SCC can grow and spread to other parts of the body if not treated promptly.

3.    Melanoma: The most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma can develop in an existing mole or appear as a new dark spot on the skin. It’s more likely to spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated early.

The ABCDEs of Skin Cancer Detection

Dermatologists recommend following the ABCDE guideline for spotting potential skin cancers. This simple acronym helps you evaluate moles and skin changes:

∙         A – Asymmetry: One half of the mole doesn’t match the other.

∙         B – Border: The edges are irregular, ragged or blurred.

∙         C – Color: The color is not uniform and may include shades of brown, black, pink, red, white or blue.

∙         D – Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser), though skin cancers can be smaller.

∙         E – Evolving: The mole or spot changes in size, shape or color

A new or changing spot on the skin might be a sign of skin cancer. By regularly checking your skin for these ABCDE characteristics, you take the first step in skin cancer awareness and early detection.

Proactive Steps to Prevent Skin Cancer

Prevention is just as crucial as early detection. Here are some effective ways to protect your skin from harmful UV radiation:

∙         Avoid Sun Exposure During Peak Hours: Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest.

∙         Wear Protective Clothing: Use UV-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to shield your skin.

∙         Avoid Tanning Beds: Indoor tanning machines significantly increase your risk of skin cancer.

∙         Apply Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen: Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every 2 hours or more often if swimming or sweating.

Understanding Your Risk Factors

While anyone can develop skin cancer, certain factors can increase your risk:

∙         Fair skin that burns easily

∙         Natural blonde or red hair and blue or green eyes

∙         Having more than 50 moles or unusual moles

∙         A family history of melanoma or skin cancer

∙         History of blistering sunburns, especially during childhood

Regular Skin Examinations

If you fall into any of the higher-risk categories, it’s especially important to have regular skin exams. THE CENTER for Advanced Dermatology recommends an annual full-body skin assessment which you can schedule by calling 602-867-7546 or booking online at WEBSITE.

Monthly Self-Exams and Annual Dermatologist Visits

Most skin cancers are highly curable when detected and treated early. Conduct a personal skin exam once a month and visit your dermatologist at least once a year, or more often if you notice any changes. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can significantly reduce your risk and ensure any skin cancer is caught and treated in its earliest stages.

Taking these steps not only helps in spotting skin cancer early but also promotes overall skin health. Remember, early detection is your best defense against skin cancer, and prevention is your best strategy for maintaining healthy skin. Don’t wait—take action today to protect your skin and your health.