It’s Valentine’s Day as I write this. What better time to check your loved one for skin cancer? One in five Americans will get some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, and this is probably true for many other countries, as well. Even more Australians will get skin cancer than in the U.S. Although lighter-skinned people are more at risk, people with dark skin also get skin cancer and should also take precautions and check themselves and others.
In recent years, several of my family members have gotten skin cancer, including basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma.
Although there is a genetic component, overexposure to the sun and repeated sunburns greatly add to the risk. Even in winter, avoid overexposure to the sun and wear sunblock. Stay away from tanning beds.
From Wikipedia: There are a variety of different skin cancer symptoms. These include changes in the skin that do not heal, ulcering in the skin, discolored skin, and changes in existing moles, such as jagged edges to the mole and enlargement of the mole.
- Basal cell carcinoma usually looks like a raised, smooth, pearly bump on the sun-exposed skin of the head, neck or shoulders. Sometimes small blood vessels can be seen within the tumor. Crusting and bleeding in the center of the tumor frequently develops. It is often mistaken for a sore that does not heal. This form of skin cancer is the least deadly and with proper treatment can be completely eliminated, often without scarring.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is commonly a red, scaling, thickened patch on sun-exposed skin. Ulceration and bleeding may occur. When SCC is not treated, it may develop into a large mass. Squamous cell is the second most common skin cancer. It is dangerous, but not nearly as dangerous as a melanoma.
- Most melanomas are brown to black looking lesions. Warning signs that might indicate a malignant melanoma include change in size, shape, color or elevation of a mole. Other signs are the appearance of a new mole during adulthood or new pain, itching, ulceration or bleeding.
- Merkel cell carcinomas are most often rapidly growing, non-tender red, purple or skin colored bumps that are not painful or itchy. They may be mistaken for a cyst or other type of cancer. About skin cancer.
A related post I wrote after I was diagnosed with basal cell cancer. Vitamin D — The Sunshine Vitamin.
Two important websites:
National Cancer Institute Information on Skin Cancer.
Here’s a blog post by my friend Jan describing our spring break trip in college to Padre Island, where we got horribly sunburned within hours of our arrival! Done With The Sun.