Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers in the United States.
What is Skin Cancer?
It affects more than 2 million Americans every year.
Skin cancer is a growth on the skin that occurs when cells grow abnormally. It occurs most commonly on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, like the neck, arms, and face. If the growth continues unchecked, it can spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream or lymphatic system. It is essential to address an abnormal growths or unusual moles on the skin as soon as they are detected to prevent a potentially life threatening form of cancer.
The two most common types of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas—are highly curable, but can be disfiguring and costly.
Melanoma, the third most common skin cancer, is more dangerous and causes the most deaths. The majority of these three types of skin cancer are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
If you are concerned about skin cancer, call our office at Refined Dermatology and our skin cancer expert, Dr. Swengel will assist you with the care you need.
What causes Skin Cancer?
Ultraviolet (UV) Light
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can penetrate and change skin cells.
The three types of UV rays are ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC)—
- • UVA is the most common kind of sunlight at the earth’s surface, and reaches beyond the top layer of human skin. Scientists believe that UVA rays can damage connective tissue and increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.
- • Most UVB rays are absorbed by the ozone layer, so they are less common at the earth’s surface than UVA rays. UVB rays, which help produce vitamin D in the skin, don’t reach as far into the skin as UVA rays, but they still can be damaging.
- • UVC rays are very dangerous, but they are absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the ground.
What are the Risk Factors of Skin Cancer?
People with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop skin cancer. Risk factors vary for different types of skin cancer, but some general risk factors are having:
- A lighter natural skin color.
- Family history of skin cancer.
- A personal history of skin cancer.
- Exposure to the sun through work and play.
- A history of sunburns, especially early in life.
- A history of indoor tanning.
- Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun.
- Blue or green eyes.
- Blond or red hair.
- Certain types and a large number of moles.
What are the Symptoms?
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This could be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in a mole.
Not all skin cancers look the same.
A simple way to remember the signs of melanoma is to remember the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma—
- “A” stands for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape with two parts that look very different?
- “B” stands for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
- “C” is for color. Is the color uneven?
- “D” is for diameter. Is the mole or spot larger than the size of a pea?
- “E” is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed during the past few weeks or months?
Talk to Dr. Swengel if you notice changes in your skin such as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, a change in an old growth, or any of the A-B-C-D-Es of melanoma.