We’re excited about Skin Cancer Awareness Month! Even though we maintain an ongoing dialogue with our patients about skin health, it’s important to be reminded of the dangers of skin cancer, especially since it’s largely preventable and if caught in time, highly treatable. Because it’s the most common kind of cancer, we are constantly preaching to our patients the importance of protecting your body’s largest organ.
Numbers to Know
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70.
- In the US, treatment of skin cancer costs more than $8 billion.
- Skin cancers due to tanning bed usage account for $343 million.
- Actinic keratosis (the most common kind of pre-cancer) affects more than 58 million Americans.
- There are more skin care diagnoses than all other kinds of cancer… combined.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are more than three million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 91,270 new cases this year and 9,320 deaths from melanoma, or one person dying nearly every half hour. When it’s detected early, melanoma’s first-year survival rate is 99 percent. The grounding news? More than 90 percent of melanoma cases are preventable. That’s why it’s so important to protect your skin and to have regular checkups.
Other common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Of these cancers, about 3.5 million cases are diagnosed each year. Because basal cell carcinoma doesn’t usually metastasize, it’s the least dangerous form of the three. It usually appears as a red bump or a pink patch. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer. It spreads throughout the body, appearing as red, scaly patches or bumps, most commonly found on sun-exposed areas.
Skin Cancer Prevention
By simply limiting your exposure to UV rays, you can drastically decrease your chances of being diagnosed with skin cancer. The easiest way to do this is by religiously wearing sunscreen and protective clothing. Skin cancer is an incredibly preventable disease and when caught in time, highly treatable. While performing self-checks is an important part of cancer prevention, cancer can also develop in hard-to-see places.
Best Practices for Self Examination
While annual in-office exams are a must, it’s also important to perform self-checks at home in the meantime. Once a month, after bathing, perform a skin check in a brightly-lit room with a full-length mirror and a hand-held mirror. For areas that are tough to see, like your scalp, ask a friend or family member to help out. Make a note of any existing freckles, moles or other marks so that if they change, you’ll recognize that something is different. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us right away so that we can perform a more in-depth examination.
What to Expect From an In-Office Visit
At Charleston Dermatology, we will first ask all about your family history with skin cancer and your own past history. We’ll address any concerns you may have found during your self-check, noting the size, shape, color and texture of the problem area. If deemed appropriate, dermatologists at Charleston Dermatology will then perform diagnostic tests to areas of concern. Once areas are properly diagnosed, Charleston Dermatology will discuss treatment options and agree to a plan that best fits your needs. Contact us at Charleston Dermatology to schedule your skin check.