Why Regular Skin Checks for Cancer Are Always a Good Idea

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. About 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. In fact, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are expected to rise by almost 8% this year.

Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable diseases. But if you do develop it, finding it early is key to treating and successfully curing it.

Types of skin cancer

There are several types of skin cancers. The most common types include:

Basal cell carcinoma

This is the most common type of skin cancer. About 4.3 million people are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma each year. Basal cell skin cancer usually develops on areas that receive the most sun exposure, such as the head and neck.

If not treated, it can spread to other parts of the body. If not removed properly, it’s more likely to return. If you have one basal cell carcinoma, you’re more likely to get another one in a different spot.

Squamous cell carcinoma

This is the second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 20% of all skin cancers. This type of skin cancer shows up on sun-exposed areas as well such as the ears, face, lips, and back of hands. Sometimes, it also develops in scars and sores.

Squamous cell carcinoma is more likely than basal cell carcinoma to spread but is not common.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the least common but most deadly form of skin cancer. It is more likely to spread than the two other more common types of skin cancer. This type of skin cancer often develops in a mole but can also appear as a new dark spot on your skin.

Skin cancer prevention strategies

Most people can reduce their risk of skin cancer by avoiding the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Simple prevention strategies include:

Importance of regular skin checks

If caught early, skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to cure. The best ways to detect skin cancer early is with regular at-home skin checks coupled with annual skin checks by your doctor. Checking your skin regularly can help you spot changes in your skin that may be early signs of cancer.

Check yourself when getting ready for a bath or bed. Things to look out for include:

In addition to regularly keeping an eye on your skin for changes, you should have a dermatologist do a more thorough full-body check and keep track of changes or new growths, freckles, and spots. People who are of higher risk for skin cancer, such as those with fair skin or a previous diagnosis of skin cancer, may need more frequent exams.

For more information on skin cancer screening, call us at Danvers Family Doctors in Danvers, Massachusetts, or make an appointment online.

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