Here is a pop quiz for you regarding skin cancer! Let’s test your knowledge (answers are at the end of the article):
1. What type of cancer is increasing in occurrence faster than any other type of cancer?
2. What is the most common cancer in America?
3. What are the three most common “types” of skin cancer?
4. What is the number one cause of cancer death in women ages 20 to 25?
5. What is the current lifetime risk of skin cancer for Caucasian Americans?
Most Americans barely consider skin cancer to be a risk, however, half of all newcancers reported this year in the USA will be skin cancer. In fact, more than 1.2 million new cases will be diagnosed in 2016. This is quite a contrast from just 50 years ago. Today, the lifetime risk of melanoma is 1:50, while in 1960 that rate was 1:600. This signifies the risk of skin cancer is rising at an alarming rate.
According to a new study, 40-50% of Caucasian Americans who live to be 65 will haveskin cancer at least once in their lives. Some individuals are more susceptible, especially those with red or blond hair, blue eyes or marked freckles. Also, individuals with a family history of skin cancer or a history of 3 or more blistering sunburns before the age of 20. Therefore, prevention is the key to avoiding skin cancer and several steps should be taken. Sunscreen by itself does not prevent skin cancer. With that said, sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher should be worn year round, even on cloudy days. Wear a wide brim hat to protect your scalp and face. Wear light-colored clothing made of tightly woven fabrics and cover shoulders, neck and chest. Avoid mid-day sun when UV rays are strongest and eliminate the use tanning beds.
In order to ensure early detection, it is important to know the ABC’s of skin cancer and beware of any moles or skin changes that have any of the following characteristics:
A – ASYMMETRIC when line drawn through the center
B – BORDERS that are irregular or ragged
C – COLOR variation in the same mole
D – DIAMETER of more than 6mm
E – EVOLUTION change in SIZE, SHAPE, COLOR or THICKNESS
It is very important to examine your skin regularly for skin changes and ask a partner to check the hard-to-see areas. If you notice anything changing, itching or bleeding, make an appointment to see your doctor. For most skin cancers, total removal represents the best option of treatment. Ideally, the cancer is removed such that all the borders are found to be clean of cancer.
Remember prevention and early detection are essential to reduce your risk of skincancer.
There is good news! If skin cancer is detected early and properly treated it has a high cure rate.
1. Skin Cancer
2. Skin Cancer
3. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma
5. 40-50% lifetime risk