There’s so much in the news about the skin cancer and the importance of covering up that some of us may be tempted to tune it out. But, keeping abreast of the encouraging developments in fighting disease and ways to prevent couldn’t be more important today.
What’s new on the horizon about the fight against skin cancer? It might surprise you to learn there’s plenty. Check out these Things You Probably Don’t Know About Skin Cancer. Sure to get your prevention routine in shape for the long, hot days of summer ahead and, certainly, throughout the year.
Surprise No. 1: Skin Cancer Starts Small. Skin cancers, like basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma, start out their treacherous lives as precancerous lesions. These lesions, according to WebMD, are not exactly cancer but could become cancer over time. Experts tell us that 40-50% of all fair skinned people who live to 65 will develop at least one skin cancer during this time.
Surprise No. 2: It’s all in the head. Experts at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and WebMD tell us that Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis) commonly grows on the head, neck or hands. These small, scaly patches of skin represent the early signs of skin cancer. These patches usually appear on people over the age of 40, but they are seen in people a lot younger as well. Early treatment is required to stop the progression of these patches to squamous cell skin cancer. People who are fair-skinned, people with blond or red hair with blue or green eyes are at particular risk of Actinic Keratosis (Solar Keratosis).
Surprise No. 3: Knowing Your ABCDE’s can help save your life. Moles and freckles are usually nothing to worry about. But, it’s important to keep an eye on these items in case they change. The best way to evaluate your moles and freckles? Know your ABCDE’s. Assymetry is when a mole or freckle becomes lopsided. Ragged Borders can spell trouble. Color should be uniform and unchanging. When the Diameter of a mole or freckle becomes larger than the eraser of a pencil, you may want to schedule a check up with your doctor. When moles and freckles become raised or Elevated, you will need to follow up with your doctor.
Surprise No. 4: Melanoma is treatable but serious. Malignant melanoma, especially in the later stages of the disease, is a serious matter and treatment can be difficult. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase the survival rate of malignant melanoma. Regular check ups and good sun protection are the first line of defense.
Surprise No. 5: Skin cancer can strike anyone, anywhere. That’s why you should invest in a good suncreen, cover up and get out of the sun’s way when the sun’s at its peak during the day. If you’re a woman, make sure your facial foundation contains SPF 15 or over. If you’re fair skinned, a wide brimmed hat will help shield your head, face, ears and neck from the sun’s harmful rays.
Skin Cancer Resources
Skin Cancer – Prevention
Centers for Disease Control
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for school programs to prevent skin cancer. MMWR 2002;51(No. RR-4):1-16.
Skin Cancer Foundation