If You Spot This, You May Have Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, but it doesn't have to be. Most cases can be prevented, the Prevent Cancer Foundation states. But, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, more than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour, having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma and when detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent." Knowing the signs of skin cancer can be a matter of life and death and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Kimmerle Cohen, a hepatopancreaticobiliary surgeon and surgical oncologist and the Vice Chief of Surgery at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, part of the Palm Beach Health Network, who shares what to know about skin cancer and signs not to ignore. As always, please consult with your physician for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What Should People Know About Skin Cancer?
Dr. Cohen says, "Skin cancer is not just skin. It can be extremely disfiguring on a diagnosis of melanoma and can be deadly if left untreated. Many things can be done to prevent skin cancer and therefore education on preventative measures is essential."
Skin Cancer Can Happen at Anytime
Dr. Cohen explains, "Skin cancer can arise from a pre-existing mole on the skin or can be a new lesion. It could be a mole you have had your whole life that may have undergone a transformation into what could potentially be a melanoma."
Know the ABCDEs of Melanoma
"These could indicate that you have skin cancer," says Dr. Cohen.
"A stands for asymmetry. That's when one half of the mole doesn't match the other. An asymmetrical mole is definitely a warning sign of skin cancer.
B is for border which means the border of the abnormality on your skin is irregular and expanding.
C is for coloration. This means any change in the color of a mole could be a warning sign or different colors in the same mole.
D is the diameter. A sign of skin cancer is the shape and the size of the mole is expanding.
E is for evolving in terms of size, shape and color. Any changes in a mole should be checked by a physician. In terms of basal and squamous cell carcinomas those are typically red or pearly lesions of the skin that just do not heal. They may look like a small bug bite. Pink or red lesions that do not resolve within a month need to be checked by a physician."
What Causes Skin Cancer
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays come from the sun, tanning beds, and sunlamps. UV rays can damage skin cells. To lower your risk of getting skin cancer, you can protect your skin from UV rays from the sun, and avoid artificial sources of UV exposure like tanning beds and sunlamps."
How to Practice Sun Safety
The CDC says, "Protection from UV rays is important all year, not just during the summer. UV rays can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. In the continental United States, UV rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight saving time (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time).
The UV Index External forecasts the strength of UV rays each day. If the UV index is 3 or higher in your area, protect your skin from too much exposure to the sun. CDC recommends several ways to protect your skin when the UV index is 3 or higher—
–Stay in the shade.
–Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
–Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
–Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
–Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher."