What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is cancer that develops in the layers of the skin. It is usually in areas that are exposed to the sun and can usually be seen or felt on the skin. Skin cancer may cover a large area, or look like a small spot. Even small spots can be dangerous because they can spread under the skin and infect other areas. There are several different types of skin cancer. The most deadly is melanoma. Other common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. It can take many shapes and appearances. Melanoma is usually a dark color like brown, blue, or black. Other signs to look for include: irregular borders, asymmetry (one half looks different than the other half), and size – melanomas are usually large (bigger than a pencil eraser)
Basal cell carcinomas can be treated easily if found early. They can be red, pink, or white in color. Some are a patch of color while others are bumps which often appear shiny. Sometimes this type of cancer causes sores that never completely heal, or come back shortly after healing.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually takes on one of two forms. It may be a rough patch, or can look and feel like a wart.
What causes skin cancer?
There are many things that may lead to skin cancer. Some of these things are out of our control, but by reducing exposure to the sun and other UV rays we can lower our chances of getting skin cancer. The things we can’t control: family history, light skin type, intensity of the sun, high altitude. The things we can control: time spent in sun, UV rays from tanning beds, amount of skin exposed to sun
Can skin cancer be prevented?
There are things we can do to lower our chances of getting skin cancer. These things are: Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater, apply sunscreen 30-45 minutes before going outside, reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, stay in the shade as much as possible, wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts to protect skin from the sun, wear sun glasses, avoid the sun during the hottest parts of the day (This is when the UV rays are the strongest), and avoid tanning beds.
What does SPF mean?
SPF means “Sun Protection Factor.” It is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects you from harmful UV rays from the sun. Sunscreen must be re-applied every two to three hours, even if it has a high SPF number.
Adults and children should always wear at least SPF 15.
What SPF is needed to prevent skin cancer?
To lower the chance of skin cancer, adults and children should always wear at least SPF 15.
Do tanning beds cause skin cancer?
Recent research says that yes, tanning beds can cause cancer. The World Health Organization strongly urges all people to avoid using tanning beds, especially those under the age of 18.
Are there different types of skin cancer?
There are different types of skin cancer. Each type is named after which type of cell it begins in. The three most common types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
How can I tell if I have skin cancer?
Only a doctor can tell if you have skin cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you notice any unusual moles, bumps, or red patches, or if you notice a change in any moles you already have. It may be a good idea to perform a monthly self skin check. Talk to your doctor if you notice any new moles, bumps or rough patches that are unusual, or if you notice a change in any you already had. Things to look for include: changes in any moles, bumps, or rough patches, moles with a dark color (blue, black, purple, green, etc), moles that are not the same color or shade throughout, moles with irregular/wavy borders, moles that are asymmetrical (one side looks different than the other side), moles that are bigger around than the eraser on the top of a pencil, or spots that itch or bleed.
Does skin cancer have symptoms?
Many times the only symptoms of skin cancer are those that can be seen or felt on the skin. Some skin cancers cause dark colored (blue, black, green, purple) moles or spots. Cancerous moles may also be large, have irregular/wavy borders, or be asymmetrical. Other skin cancers may cause red, white, or pink bumps. Sometimes these bumps are smooth and shiny. Skin cancers may also cause rough patches on the skin or spots that itch or bleed.
Who can get skin cancer?
Anyone can get skin cancer. Skin cancer used to be more common among middle-aged people and the elderly, but people are now getting skin cancer in their twenties—and even their teens.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
If your doctor thinks you may have skin cancer, he or she will take a small piece of skin from the area. This will then be sent to a laboratory where it will be examined for signs of cancer. Your doctor may also take a small piece of tissue from lymph nodes near the area to see if the cancer has spread.
How is skin cancer treated?/
Each patient’s treatment is unique and depends on the patient and how advanced their cancer is. The patient’s doctor and specialists will help determine which treatment is best. Treatment options may include: surgery, systemic chemotherapy (taken through an IV or orally), topical chemotherapy (put directly on the skin in a cream or ointment), radiation therapy, cryotherapy, immunotherapy, or laser surgery.
Do I have a higher chance of getting skin cancer if a family member had it?
If a family member had skin cancer, you may have a higher chance of getting it. Some things, such as skin type, environment, and lifestyle are similar among family members.
*Source: Utah Department of Health