As a dermatologist, I get many questions regarding skin cancer, including what the different types, how common it may be, and how to cure it. Skin cancer is when your skin cells grow abnormally, and this can be caused by a number of things. Studies show that ultraviolet UV light exposure form the sun is by far the most common cause of skin cancer, with over 90% of skin cancer cases being attributed to the sun and sun damage. Skin cancer is known to be the most common cancer in the world, meaning we need to take precautionary steps by educating people and showing ways to prevent it.
3 Common Types of Skin Cancer
There are three common types of skin cancer. They all look different and are caused by different things occurring in your skin.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma- This type is commonly caused by sun exposure. You may recognize it as red or pearly shiny bumps or patches on your skin. The appearance of such spots does not necessarily mean you have skin cancer, but always get them checked out if something does not seem right with your skin.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma- Most often found on parts of the body that have been exposed to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. These spots can appear red, scaly, and are often rough patches to the touch. This type can spread to other areas of the body if not treated, especially if it develops on the ear, lip or other high risk sites.
- Melanoma- Also may be caused by UV exposure, although a family history of melanoma and having multiple moles on your body are also risk factors. This cancer often looks like an irregular dark mole, with an asymmetric shape, multiple colors, and larger than a pencil eraser. Melanoma is less common, but can be the most dangerous. It can spread to other organs more rapidly.
Depending on the severity of the cancer, many treatments are available. These can include topical creams, destructive therapies, excisional surgeries and Mohs surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and others. The type of cancer you have and how severe the case is will determine what treatment is necessary. If caught early, treatments are typically minimally invasive and predominantly localized to the skin.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is by staying away from harmful UV rays. This is easier said than done. When you are outside, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 or higher. Taking care of your skin can prevent the skin cells in your body from growing abnormally and resulting in skin cancer.
May is skin cancer awareness month, so spread the word on how to keep your skin and your overall health safe.Previous Post Next Post