Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer; thankfully it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Understanding how to check your skin for warning signs and how to prevent the cancer is the purpose of this blog.
There are three major types of skin cancer, Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma and Melanoma. The most common skin cancer is Basal cell, this cancer starts in the basal cell layer, which is the lower part of the epidermis. About 80% of skin cancers are Basal cell. This type of cancer develops on sun-exposed areas; especially the face and they tend to grow slowly. Often starting as a slow growing pink, skin-colored or light brown bump on the skin, often it will scab in the middle and can bleed when touched.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer that occurs from abnormal growth of squamous cells on the surface of the skin. This type of cancer comes from the DNA changes to squamous cells from sun exposure. These lesions appear as scaly red patches, rough, thickened or raised growths. These lesions may crust over and bleed when they are touched.
The deadliest skin cancer is Melanoma, which is a type of cancer that begins in the melanocytes, the cells that make melanin or pigment. Melanoma can start as what looks like a mole that can be pink, red, purple or even colorless. It is important then to understand what to look for, so that regardless of the color you can watch for these warning signs and be checked by a professional. It is best to do a monthly skin check for the following changes.
A=Asymmetry: Draw a line in the middle of the area, do the two sides match? If not then that is a Red Flag.
B=Border: A benign mole has smooth even borders, uneven borders is a Red Flag.
C=Color: Most benign moles are one color, if the area has a variety of colors this is a Red Flag.
D=Diameter: Melanoma is often larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter. Early detection though may find these lesions when they are smaller.
E=Evolving: Is there a change? Red Flag if the area is changing or growing.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to wear Sunscreen. Look for a Non-Nano Zinc Oxide of 30 to 50 SPF. Zinc Oxide is a physical block that blocks the sun rays. It is also a broad spectrum meaning it blocks UVA and UVB rays. You want to use non-nano as you do not want these particles to get into your bloodstream. Make sure you are applying every 2 hours and more often if you are sweating or swimming. I would also use a face SPF for my face, formulated not to clog the skin, and body one for the body. A hat and sunglasses is another great option for more protection and protective clothing for your body is also helpful.