February is Cancer Prevention Month, and it is important to understand the following cancer education and prevention information. The number one way to minimize risk is to get your skin checked regular and often. Annual skin cancer screenings are recommended once you enter early adulthood. Skin cancer is the most common cancer discovered in the human body. It is estimated that 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day.
Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the two most common forms of skin cancers and are highly treatable if early detection and proper treatment are performed. Generally, they occur on sun exposed areas. Look for lesions that bleed easily and do not heal. Another sign to look for are areas that have redness or a “bump” that does not resolve after one month. Basal cell cancers can appear as painless, shiny “bumps.” Squamous cell carcinomas can appear as red, scaly rashes.
Approximately, 1 in 50 Americans will develop melanoma in their lifetime. The most significant risk factors for melanoma are:
- Fair skin or hair
- Personal history of abnormal moles
- Family history of melanoma
- Having greater than 75-100 moles
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and has a 5-year survival rate of 99% if detected early. In between visiting your Dermatologist, be sure to use the ABCDEs of Melanoma for self-examination
- A-Asymmetry-One half of the spot is unlike the other half
- B-Border-The spot has an irregular border
- C-Color-The spot has varying colors, such as brown, black, tan, or areas of red, white or blue
- D-Diameter-Any spot larger than an eraser head or 6 mm.
- E-Evolving-Any spot that is different from your other moles or is changing in appearance.
Remember to get an annual skin examination every year once you reach early adulthood. Wear mineral-based sunscreen SPF 30 or greater and reapply every two hours, or as advised, when outside. Wear protective clothing and wide brimmed hats when in the sun. Do not use tanning beds.
- Jennifer Stern, MSN, FNP