When we think of summer, we think of warm sunny days as we search for a perfect time to soak it all in. Unfortunately, there are risks and deadly costs to our health – and we need to always be mindful of the sun’s harmful rays. This is not just limited to the summer — it’s all year long!
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, probably making up more than half of all diagnosed cases of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The incidence of skin cancer is rising dramatically in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer, accounting for more than 75 percent of all deaths from skin cancer, about 8,700 last year alone.*
With early detection, melanoma is highly curable. “The average five-year survival rate for individuals whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes is 98 percent,” cites the AAD. They also say there is a direct correlation between the thickness of the melanoma and survival rate.
Preventative screenings save lives—period. If you’ve been putting off your annual skin exam, don’t delay any longer. It is also recommended that you examine your own skin for abnormalities, preferably once a month. If you find anything suspicious, make an appointment with your health care professional. Skin cancer is more common in men, so be sure to encourage the males in your life to get screenings as well.
Melanoma Warning Signs
The Melissa K. Bambino Melanoma Foundation sites these melanoma warning signs on its website:
- Enlarging pigmented spot or mole
- Changes in color of an existing mole
- Changes in characteristics of skin over the pigmented spot, such as changes in size or shape
- Bleeding or breaking open
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Warning Signs
There are many types of non-melanoma cancers, but the two most common types are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year, leading to about 2,000 deaths. According to the AAD, these are the early signs to be on the lookout for:
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most common type of skin cancer. It most often appears on skin that gets lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and arms, but can appear elsewhere as well.
It may look like a:
- Reddish patch of dry skin that won’t heal
- Flesh-colored (or pink, red or brown) pearl-shaped lump
- Pimple that just won’t clear
- Sore that bleeds, heals and then returns
- Scar that feels waxy—may be skin-colored, white or yellow
- Group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths—look like sores, often scaly and bleed easily
- Flat or sunken growth – feels hard, may be white or yellow
Remember to take care of YOU!
*Portions of the article reprinted from: http://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/skin-cancer-warning-signs-and-importance-annual-screenings