It is important to protect our skin from harmful effects of the sun to reduce the risk of skin cancer by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing. Although skin cancer isn’t entirely preventable, early detection can help prevent it from spreading further and increase chances of survival. Read on as Jessica Wilson, DO, shares the early warning signs of skin cancer.
The Three Types of Skin Cancer
There are three common types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Here’s what each may look like on the skin:
Basal cell carcinoma
Typically, this type of skin cancer occurs in areas of the body that is most exposed to the sun, such as your face or neck. Characteristics may include:
- A pearly or waxy bump.
- A flat, flesh-colored, or brown lesion that may resemble a scar.
- A scabbing or bleeding lesion that heals and then returns.
Squamous cell carcinoma
This type of skin cancer typically occurs in areas of the body that are exposed to the sun and can grow on the face, ears, and hands. Characteristics may include:
- A flat lesion that has a crusted or scaly surface.
- A firm, red bump.
This type of skin cancer can develop on any part of the body in both men and women. However, in women, it most often appears on the lower legs, and, in men, it’s typically found on the face or the torso. Characteristics may include:
- A large brown spot with darker brown speckles.
- A mole that bleeds or changes color and size.
- A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black.
- A lesion that itches, burns, or is painful.
- Dark lesions may be found on palms, fingertips, or toes, or on mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose, vagina, or anus.
How to Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer
While there are more cases of skin cancer in men than in women, the American Cancer Society does list skin cancer as one of the top cancers in women. Here’s how both men and women can stay protected:
- Stay out of the sun during peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- When outdoors, seek shade whenever possible to limit UV exposure.
- Always wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days as well as apply every two hours if you will be swimming or sweating.
- Cover extremities with light-colored clothing as well as accessories such as a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Conduct regular self-exams and utilize the ABCDEs of skin cancer to help with detection. If you notice any changes, report them to your doctor.
Contact the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at Pleasant Valley Hospital
If you are concerned about your risk of developing skin cancer, we are here to help. To learn more about skin cancer screening, treatment, and prevention, contact the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center at Pleasant Valley Hospital today at 304.675.1759. To schedule a skin cancer screening appointment, please call Jessica Wilson, DO, at Pleasant Valley Hospital Family Practice & Pediatrics, at 304.675.4500. Our caring oncology and primary care physicians are here to guide you every step of the way.