What is Skin Cancer?
- Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. These mutations lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.
- The two main causes of skin cancer are the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and the use of tanning beds.
- As dangerous as this disease can be if left untreated, it is almost completely preventable with the right knowledge.
Who is at Risk?
- Everyone, no matter age, background, race, or skin type, needs to be aware of the risks of skin cancer and to ensure they are taking the necessary sun safe steps to protect themselves.
- Just a few bad sunburns before the age of 18 more than doubles one’s chances of developing skin cancer.
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- The easiest way to stay healthy from this disease is to prevent it entirely.
- UV rays from the sun can penetrate and cause damage to your skin even on a cloudy day, in the rain, or in the snow.
How to Prevent?
- Wear protective long sleeve clothing, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses when spending time outdoors.
- Apply a carcinogen free, mineral base sunscreen on all exposed skin while outdoors. Re-apply every two hours, especially if swimming or sweating.
- Share the lifesaving message of prevention and early detection with as many friends and family members as possible. Education is key in the fight against skin cancer.
How to Detect?
- If you see something, say something. Perform self skin checks and look for the ABCDE’s of Melanoma:
- Asymmetry – When half of the mole or lesion does not match the other.
- Border – Melanomas often have blurred, notched, ragged or uneven edges.
- Color – Healthy moles are usually a single shade or color.
- Diameter – Moles that grow larger than a pencil’s eraser are a cause for concern.
- Evolving – ANY CHANGE in size, shape, color, elevation or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting.
- Visit a dermatologist at least once a year to get checked for any skin lesions or moles.
Sources: SunSmart Australia, National Cancer Institute (National Institutes of Health), American Academy of Dermatology, American Cancer Society