1. Detecting and protecting against lethal skin cancer
Do you know what skin cancer looks like?
The facts are that there are different types of skin cancer and they don’t all look the same. Any changes in skin moles, freckling, or solid bumps should be reported to the doctor. Understanding what to look for and reporting skin changes to the doctor early is very important. Learn more about the types, the things to look for, the risks, and how to adjust lifestyle to protect your skin against melanoma.
2. Doctor’s used to use an ABCDE approach
Not every type of skin cancer follows these rules, but it is a quick way to think about skin disorders that you should have checked if you see these symptoms.
Asymmetry-Not Symmetrical or the same pattern from the center of once side to the other
Border – Blurry or jagged edges
Color-More than one
Diameter- Larger than 6mm
Elevation-Raised with an uneven surface
Medicine.com has several pictures of common and uncommon skin afflictions that could be cancerous.
3. Four Different Types of Skin Cancer
Medicinenet shares, “There are four types of skin cancer, 3 called in situ or non invasive and the fourth type is invasive and will metastasize and spread throughout the body rapidly.”
The most common type of skin cancer is referred to as superficial spreading melanoma and accounts for about 70% of all cases. It is often seen in children and is considered non invasive.. The melanoma stays in the top layer of the skin for quite a while before it begins to attack the cells below the skin.
It might appear as a birth mark, and might be flat or raised, can have asymmetrical borders; it might be tan, black, red, blue, brown or white.
Lentino maligna is similar to the superficial spreading melanoma but it might be found on the elderly, and is termed lentino maligna melanoma if it is deemed to have turned invasive. (Medicine.net)
4. The most common is Basal, and the most lethal is Merkel
The most common type of skin cancer is the one where the cancer cells resemble the basal cells of the epidermis. It looks like a mini volcano with the outer edges raised and the inner area refusing to heal and perhaps bleeding and scabbing repeatedly.
This type of skin cancer rarely spreads and instead just becomes imbedded in the region of the lesion. It may be discolored or it may look the same color as the skin.
Merkel cell carcinoma characteristically starts in a sun-exposed area (of the head, neck, arms or legs) in whites 60-80 years of age as a firm, painless, shiny lump that can be red, pink, or blue in color and vary in size from less than a quarter of an inch (a half cm) to more than two inches (5 cm) in diameter.
The tumor grows rapidly and often metastasizes (spreads) to other parts of the body. Even relatively small tumors are capable of metastasis, particularly to the regional (nearby) lymph nodes. (Skin Cancer Foundation)
5. Skin Cancer statistics
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and about 20 people die every day in the United States from melanoma, or about every 62 minutes. Unfortunately, it is one of the cancers that is still continuing to rise in the United States.
If detected early enough, the incidence of survival is about 99 percent; however the survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease. (Skin Cancer Facts)
In 2004, the average annual melanoma rate among Caucasians was about 22 cases per 100,000 people. In comparison, African Americans have an incidence of one case per 100,000 people. However, the overall melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 77 percent, versus 91 percent for Caucasians. This is because it often goes unreported, undetected, untreated or is ignored. (Skin Cancer Facts)
7. Risk Factors
If a direct family member has had melanoma, a mother or father, the descendant has a 50% higher risk of getting cancer. If an aunt, uncle or grandparent has had melanoma, the risks are not as high, but they are still higher than someone without a family of skin cancer. Skin Cancer Facts
Livescience.com reports, Not surprisingly, “Facial skin cancers were found to occur more often on the left-side – the side that’s next to the window while driving – among a group of about 1,050 patients in Saint Louis. The findings were most significant for men,” (Too much Driving, Surprising skin cancer risks).
Always wear sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of 15 or greater. Wearing hats, long sleeves, pants, and sunglasses are also appropriate if you are going to be outside in the sun and even under cloudy conditions, for any length of time. Avoid using tanning beds and particularly pay attention to the hours in the sun around water. Re-apply sunscreen every two hours or more often in wet conditions.
10. How to Get Help
Pay attention to your skin, particularly the parts that are often exposed to sun such as the top of your head, ears, neck, face, arms and legs. Pay attention to the particular susceptibility you may have contingent upon your ethnicity. Children should also be checked as the rate of skin cancer is climbing rapidly.
A special caution about skin cancer and kids
Melanoma is seven times more common between the ages of 10 and 20 than it is between 0 and 10 years, and ninety percent of pediatric melanoma cases occur in girls aged 10-19. (Skin Cancer Facts)
If you see a change in skin color, texture, or a new unexplainable bump that doesn’t seem to heal, consult your doctor who may refer you to a dermatologist.
(Too much Driving, Surprising skin cancer risks)
None of this information is intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional with any skin cancer concerns you may have.