Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime?
The three most common types of skin cancers are:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma– The most common form of skin cancer, can look like pink shiny bumps with rolled borders or may even appear scar like.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma– The second most common, can look like a rough, crusted pink bump or a scaly red patch.
- Melanoma– The most dangerous, usually appears as a flat patch or raised bump, with several shades of brown, black, blue or pink, and irregular borders.
Who is at the greatest risk for melanoma and other types of skin cancer?
People who tan or who have had a lot of sun exposure in their lives are at an increased risk. Melanoma can strike all races and ages and can also be in places that are not exposed to the sun.
The greatest risk of melanoma is in people who have:
- light hair and light eyes
- fair skin
- greater than 50 moles
- large moles
- atypical (unusual) moles
Examine yourself regularly to see if something new appears or if something changes. Remember to look at places you might not think to check, such as the soles of your feet. Make an appointment to see a dermatologist if you find something growing, changing or bleeding. If you have risk factors for skin cancer, you should be having regular skin checks with your dermatologist.
How can I prevent melanoma and other types of skin cancer?
- Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30—every 2 hours, even if it’s cloudy.
- Wear UV protective long sleeves/pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Seek shade, cover up & wear sunscreen
Remember: Babies under 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight, however if there is no way to avoid sun exposure, a small amount of sunscreen can be applied, but remember that it needs 30 minutes to be effective.
How do I tan safely?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a safe tan. Tanning is your body’s response to damage to your DNA. The more times you damage your DNA, the more likely you are to develop skin cancer (and the more you age your skin). There are a variety of “fake tans” available instead, including tanning lotions, tan application cloths, and spray-on applications. If you want to apply an artificial tan, remember to exfoliate first, so you get a more even application.
What do I do if I think I may have skin cancer?
Make an appointment to see a dermatologist right away. Most skin cancer is curable, especially if detected and treated early. Melanoma, which is the type that comes from moles, is the most deadly type, so it is most important to catch these as soon as possible. Most skin cancer can be treated in the office.
Have questions about skin cancer?
To schedule an appointment with one of our Dermatologists, please call (225)246-9240.
Contact your dermatologist to set up a skin check today!