Skin Cancer Signs and Risk Factors

Springtime means longer sunny days and that makes it a good time to review skin cancer knowledge.

The abnormal growth of skin cells is the simple definition of skin cancer. Skin that is exposed to the sun is most likely to develop skin cancer, but skin not exposed to the sun can also develop skin cancer.

The most common locations for skin cancer are the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs. However, skin cancer can occur on other parts of the body as well – even those not exposed to sun. All skin tones are susceptible to skin cancer, even though fair skinned types might be more prone to it.

Early detection is an essential part of successful skin cancer treatment, so monthly self skin checks are very important.  The ABCs of what to look for with changes in moles include: Asymmetry of the mole, uneven Borders around the mole, multiple Colors, larger Diameters, and moles that change or Evolve. If you notice moles with any of those characteristics, please call your dermatologist.

While sun exposure dictates a lot of skin cancer, other factors also contribute to skin cancer risk. Being fair skinned, and thus having less pigmentation gives you less protection from ultraviolet radiation. If you have ever had severe sunburn, whether in childhood or adulthood, you chance for skin cancer is increased. Any prolonged time in the sun is a factor.

And it is true; a healthy tan is not healthy. A tan is the skin’s response to excessive ultraviolet radiation. It is not healthy; it damages.

If your skin is more likely to have moles, you are more likely to develop skin cancer. That is why it is crucial to keep track of your moles, how they look and if they are changing.

A family or personal history of skin cancer increases your chance of developing skin cancer. If you have a weakened immune system you also stand a higher risk of skin cancer.

Be vigilant and take care of your skin. You can’t take away past sun damage done to your skin, but you can be aware of skin changes and see your dermatologist immediately.

Never think that you might be overreacting to a skin change. Early detection is important and a false alarm also provides peace of mind.

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