18 Dec 4 steps to detecting skin cancer early
Did you know more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined? In fact, one in two men, one in three women, and one in 330 children will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately, 99 percent of all cases are curable if they are diagnosed and treated early enough.
Early detection saves lives
Because it forms on the outside of the body, skin cancer is the cancer you can see. But, you have to see it to beat it. Medical News Today reported that melanoma has a 5-year relative survival rate of around 92 and 97 percent at stages 1A and 1B because it is easy to detect on skin. Identifying and treating melanoma in its early stages greatly increases a person’s chance of survival.
Consequently, learning how to spot skin cancer gives you the power to detect cancer when it’s easier to cure and before it becomes dangerous, disfiguring or deadly.
What does skin cancer look like?
There are several signs and symptoms of skin cancer, and being aware of these can help you spot cancer early. The three most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. The signs and symptoms vary for each type of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma is a sneaky cancer because it doesn’t appear very alarming. It often presents itself as a patch of skin that keeps bleeding or getting irritated for several months without healing, an incessant pimple, or eczema that doesn’t go away.
- Squamous cell carcinoma shares similar signs and symptoms of BCC. Squamous cell spots can occur anywhere on the body and often appear as red scaly patches that crust or bleed. They can also show up as warts, open sores that don’t completely heal, or growths that are raised at the edges with a lower area in the center that may bleed or itch.
- Melanoma usually presents itself as a dark brown or black colored spot, but occasionally as a pink bump or spot. While many melanoma spots arise from existing moles, some arise from new lesions. Melanomas come in many shapes and sizes, and the ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign can help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.
4 steps to early detection
You should not rely on annual doctor visits alone to detect skin cancer. You must take responsibility to monitor your body consistently for cancer symptoms and signs. Here are the 4 steps to take:
- Know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer: Being aware of the visual signs and symptoms discussed above is the first step to early detection.
- Chart your family’s cancer history: There is a genetic component to skin cancers. Patients with a family history of melanoma are more likely to develop it compared to those without any family history in first degree relatives. Consequently, charting your family’s skin cancer history is an important step to understanding how at-risk you are.
- Monitor your skin regularly: Performing regular self-examinations of your skin is vital to detecting skin cancer. SkinCancer.org describes what you need and how to perform an effective self-examination. If you notice something NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist immediately!
- Visit your dermatologist annually: While self-exams are important, visiting a board-certified dermatologist is a must. Schedule a full-body, professional skin exam once a year or more often if you are at higher risk for skin cancer.
All in all, if you have a concerning spot or lesion, don’t shrug it off. Contact the Center for Surgical Dermatology to schedule a professional skin exam as soon as possible.
Contact Center of Surgical Dermatology for Skin Cancer Treatments in Westerville, OH
Center of Surgical Dermatology is the largest medical and surgical skin treatment and wellness facility in Central Ohio. Since 2007, our board-certified Dermatologists, fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons, and caring professional staff have provided patients with treatment they can trust in an environment second to none. Learn more about our state-of-the-art Dermatology Center before booking your appointment today.