5 Things You Need to Know about Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the #1 cancer affecting Americans.

More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.  The three types of skin cancer you’ll hear about most often are basal cell and squamous cell (both referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancer) and melanoma.  Although melanoma only accounts for 1% of skin cancers, it’s the most deadly.

Skin cancer is the most preventable cancer.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.  That sounds pretty scary.  While skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer, it’s also the most preventable. You can hold that power in your hands: sunscreen.  Studies have shown that about 90% of nonmelanomas and 86% of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

  Know your risk.


Overall, incidence rates of skin cancer are higher in women than in men before age 50, but by age 65, rates in men are double those in women, and by age 80 they are triple.  Recreational exposure to UV radiation is the key culprit.  Young women going for the bronze are at the highest risk. The use of a tanning bed before age 35 – even once – increases the risk for melanoma by 75%.  While men may often not be deliberately striving to tan, the cumulative effects of sun exposure catch up with them as men may be less proactive in both sun protection and early detection of skin anomalies.

In addition to UV exposure, other major risk factors include a personal or family history of skin cancers, fair skin that burns easily, immune-suppressing diseases or treatments, and atypical, larger, or numerous moles.

Skin cancer is easily treated if caught early.

All of this can make one squeamish and want to avoid the subject of moles, sunburns, and cancer altogether.  But almost all cases of nonmelanoma cancers can be cured, especially if detected and treated early!  Melanoma is also highly curable when detected early.  The key is to catch the warning signs of melanoma before it spreads to other parts of the body.  Make self-exams for spots and changes part of your skin care routine and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

 See something? Say something.

You know your body best.  Don’t ignore your gut – if you notice something out of the ordinary or have any concerns, speak with your board-certified dermatologist.  Skin cancer can also develop where the sun doesn’t shine.  It’s important to have yearly skin checks by a trained professional who can detect anomalies in areas you may have missed, as well as help monitor the health of your skin.

Please remember, early detection is key to treating skin cancer.  If you have questions about your risks or have concerns about your skin, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with us at Savola Aethetic Dermatology Center today. Same day medical and cosmetic appointments are available. (540) 451-2833