Skin Should Be Healthy
At Johnson County Dermatology, we believe that healthy skin can be the key to a beautiful life. That’s why we want our patients to know the types of skin cancers and how to minimize your risk.
The principal cause of skin cancer is almost universally accepted by medical experts to be over — exposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Limit exposing skin to harmful rays by covering up and using sunscreens with at least a 15 SPF rating. Periodic self-examinations are also helpful-aiding in early recognition of any new or developing lesion.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common skin cancer for Caucasians with light hair, eyes and complexions that don’t tan easily. Tumors usually appear as small, fleshy bumps on the head, neck and hands (and sometimes trunk). It can take months or years for it to reach a diameter of one-half inch. Untreated, the cancer will bleed, crust over and then repeat. This cancer does not often metastasize (spread throughout the body), but it can extend to the bone and cause considerable local damage.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is another common skin cancer found in Caucasians. Tumors may appear as nodules or as red, scaly patches typically found on the rim of the ear, the face, the lips and sun-exposed areas of the body. In time, it will develop into large masses. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, it can metastasize (or spread).
Malignant Melanoma is the most virulent of all skin cancers, affecting 32,000 Americans annually and killing an estimated 6,800 Americans each year. This cancer is almost always curable in its early stages. Melanoma warning signs include changes in the surface of a mole, scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a bump or nodule, spread of pigment from the border into surrounding skin, and a change in sensation including itchiness, tenderness or pain. The “ABCDs” for early detection of melanoma:
- Asymmetry — The shape of one half of the suspected tumor does not match the other.
- Border — The edges are uneven, ragged or notched.
- Color — Different shades of brown, black, tan, blue or red.
- Diameter — A change in size. (Moles are usually less than the size of a pencil eraser.)