Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
Despite this, more than 5 million cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, and skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“It’s important to emphasize the dangers of unprotected sun exposure and check for warning signs, and always check your skin from head to toe for anything new, changing, or unusual,” Dr. Bruce Peters of Ocean ENT Otolaryngology.
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, with approximately 3.6 million cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“BCCs manifest as uncontrolled growths that can look like open sores, scars, shiny bumps, or red patches,” Peters said. “If you follow a comprehensive sun protection strategy, you will significantly reduce your risk of developing this form of cancer.”
The good news is that BCCs rarely metastasize, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“However, if not identified early and treated properly, BCCs can be locally destructive and cause significant scarring,” Peters added.
CTS is the second most common skin cancer, affecting approximately 1.8 million people each year in the United States. These tumors arise from squamous cells, which are located on the upper levels of the epidermis and may appear as scaly red patches, warts or open sores. which may scab or bleed.
“SCCs are significantly more dangerous than BCCs because they can metastasize if not detected and treated at an early stage,” Peters said.
The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that SCCs are primarily caused by cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation over a lifetime.
The best known, and perhaps the most dangerous, type of skin cancer is melanoma.
“Resulting from pigment-producing melanocytes, melanomas can become very difficult to treat and even be fatal if they progress,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. “If the cancer is detected early, however, a patient has an estimated five-year survival rate of 99%. This is why knowing how to recognize potential melanoma is so important.
Peters notes that the best way to identify warning signs is to use the “ABCDEs” of melanoma.
- A = asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical, which means that if you draw a line down the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match.
- B = border. The borders of melanoma tend to be jagged or uneven.
- C = color. Multiple or uneven colors are a warning sign (i.e. varying shades of brown, black or tan).
- D = diameter/darkness. Is the lesion larger than the size of a pea or a pencil eraser?
- E = scalable. Melanomas can change in size, shape or color. They may also bleed, itch or form scabs.
If you notice any changes in your skin, such as new growth or a sore that does not heal, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or Ocean ENT.
“We specialize in diagnosing skin lesions on the face, scalp and neck,” Peters said. “Our practice regularly performs skin cancer surgery.”