You want to reduce your risk for skin cancer, or maybe you need to know what to look for. Be informed. Know the signs. Understand how to prevent this disease.
Understanding Skin Cancer
What is skin cancer? Skin cancer is a specific form of cancer that develops most often on skin exposed to the sun. The three main skin cancer types are:
- Basal cell carcinoma. The most common cancer form. Found in the deepest part of your skin’s outermost layer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. Develops in the flat, outer skin cells.
- Melanoma. A malignant tumor that forms in the melanin-forming cells. Often appears as dark brown or black “moles” on your skin.
What skin cancer signs should you look for? It’s important to check yourself and have a dermatologist check your skin regularly. Examine not only skin that’s regularly exposed to the sun on your face, arms, lips, and scalp, but also places rarely exposed like the bottoms of your feet, stomach, and palms of your hands. Common signs for each skin cancer type vary.
- Basal cell carcinoma often appears as:
- A fleshy colored, flat lesion.
- A small, white, shiny bump.
- Squamous cell carcinoma often appears as:
- A flat, crusty lesion.
- A raised, hard, red bump.
- Melanoma often appears as:
- A mole that changes shape, color, texture, or starts to bleed.
- A large, brownish, speckled spot.
- A small irregular spot that appears blue, black, red, or white around the edges.
- Dark lesions in your mouth, lining of your vagina or anus, or on the palms of your hands, bottoms of your feet, fingertips, or toes.
What can you do to prevent it? Skin cancer prevention is within your control. Follow these simple steps to reduce your risk:
I want to see a dermatologist to ensure my skin health.
- Wear sunscreen all year long.
- Avoid the sun at high points of the day.
- Don’t use tanning beds.
- Wear protective clothing.
- Men and women, especially over age 18, should always request a skin exam during regular health check-ups.
- See your dermatologist regularly for thorough skins checks, early detection, and treatment.