Skin Cancer - The Basics
Skin cancer is extremely common. In fact, skin cancer is THE most common cancer with millions diagnosed each year.
There are multiple types of cancer that occur in skin, but the three most common are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the two common non-melanoma skin cancers, form from the skin cells that comprise the top layer of skin, the epidermis.
Melanoma forms from the pigment producing melanocytes that give color to our skin and can also be found in the hair follicles, nail matrix, eyes, and other parts of the body.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
- More than 9,500 people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
- More than 2 people die in the US of skin cancer every HOUR, including 15,000 people who die of squamous cell carcinoma every year.
Is there any good news?
When detected EARLY, skin cancer is highly curable. In fact, even melanoma can have a 99% survival rate when caught early. This is why a regular skin check with a board-certified dermatologist is extremely important.
So what causes skin cancer?
While a complex interplay between genetics and many biologic and environmental factors is ultimately to blame, the major contributor to the development of most skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This includes the sun as well as artificial sources of UVA and UVB radiation, which includes tanning beds and other UV lamps.
What should I do?
First, because it is best to detect skin cancer early, establishing care with a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Wilkerson at Fort Lauderdale Dermatology is very important.
The following preventive measures to avoid UV radiation can help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer:
- Avoid the sun during peak UV hours: 10am — 2pm.
- NEVER use a tanning bed. (If you already do, stop NOW).
- Apply a broad-spectrum (UVA-UVB) sunscreen every day and anytime you will be outside.
- Put on enough sunscreen (usually more than you think) to cover your skin.
- Reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling, or sweating.
- Wear UV protective clothing with long sleeves and long pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
- Remember that UV radiation can reflect off of the ground, sand, water, and other surfaces.
- Consider UV protective tinting on windows.
Prevention is key, but it isn’t the entire game plan. Unfortunately, even with strict prevention methods that help to reduce the risk of skin cancer, it is still possible to get skin cancer, so early detection is very important. Follow these steps:
- Perform self-skin examinations at home. Become familiar with your skin to notice anything new or changing. Report anything of concern to Dr. Wilkerson. Also, report anything that:
- is new, growing, or changing in any way as soon as you notice it.
- bleeds on its own or with minor trauma.
- does not heal after a couple weeks.
- you thought was “just a pimple” but doesn’t go away after 2-3 weeks.
- See Dr. Wilkerson for a skin check at least once a year or as he recommends to you.
At Fort Lauderdale Dermatology, Dr. Wilkerson is available for same-day appointments. Contact us today!