Skin Cancer

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a serious disease that can affect anyone. It is the most common form of cancer. If caught early, skin cancer can often be treated with success. But in some cases, it is life-threatening. To play it safe, start doing monthly skin checkups. If you see any changes in your skin, contact your doctor right away. Read on to learn more.

Basal Cell Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma: What it Looks Like

Basal cell cancer is the most common skin cancer. Lesions often appear on the face, ears, neck, trunk, or arms. Varying in color, these lesions may be waxy, pearly, scaly, or scarlike. Tiny blood vessels may be seen through the lesion’s surface.

Melanoma: What it Looks Like

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. A melanoma lesion’s borders are often poorly defined. It may be mixed in color. The shape and size of melanoma lesions tend to differ from one side to the other.

Squamous Cell Cancer
Squamous Cell Carcinoma: What it Looks Like

Squamous cell cancer is also a common type of skin cancer. Lesions often form on the face (commonly on the lips), ears, neck, hands, or arms. The lesions are firm, red bumps or flat, scaly, crusty growths. Bowen’s disease is an early stage of squamous cell cancer. The lesions are red, crusty, scaly growths with well-defined borders.

Who’s at Risk?

  • Everyone is at risk for skin cancer. But you may be at greater risk if you have:
  • Fair skin, light-colored hair, or light-colored eyes
  • Many moles on your skin
  • A history of sunburns from sunlight or tanning beds
  • A family history of skin cancer
  • A history of exposure to radiation or chemicals
  • A weakened immune system
  • Also, a personal history of skin cancer puts you at risk for recurring skin cancer.


Preventing Skin Cancer

Relaxing in the sun may feel good. But it isn’t good for your skin. In fact, being exposed to the sun’s harmful rays is a major cause of skin cancer. This is a serious disease that can be life-threatening. People of all ages and backgrounds are at risk. But in most cases, skin cancer can be prevented.

Your Role in Prevention
You can act today to help prevent skin cancer. Start by avoiding the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays, including artificial sources, which are no safer. Taking these steps can help keep you from getting skin cancer. It can also help prevent wrinkles and other sun-induced aging effects. Make sure your children follow these safeguards, too. Now is the time to start taking preventive steps against skin cancer.

When You Are Outdoors

Protect your skin when you go outdoors during the day. Take precautions whenever you go out to eat, run errands by car or on foot, or do any outdoor activity. There isn’t just one easy way to protect your skin. It’s best to follow all of these steps:

  • Wear clothing that covers your skin. Put on a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears, and scalp.
  • Watch the clock. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when it is strongest.
  • Head for the shade or create your own. Use an umbrella when sitting or strolling.
  • Know that the sun’s rays can reflect off sand, water, and snow. This can harm your skin. Take extra care when you are near reflective surfaces.
  • Shield your skin with sunscreen. Also. apply sunscreen to your children’s skin.

Tips for Using Sunscreen

To help prevent skin cancer, choose the right sunscreen and use it correctly. Try the following tips:

  • Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. The sunscreen should shield you from UVA and UVB (ultraviolet A and B) rays.
  • If one brand irritates your skin, try another.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 3 to 5 hours. If you’re active, do this more often.
  • Cover any sun-exposed skin, from your face to your feet. Don’t forget your ears and your lips.
  • Know that while sunscreen helps protect you, it isn’t enough. You should wear protective clothing, too. And try to stay out of the sun as much as you can, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.