Want to reduce your risk of skin cancer? Get out that sunscreen and use it faithfully. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat and bring a cover-up when going outside to spend time in the sun. Between the hottest hours of the day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., find some shade. Avoid tanning beds. Look for dry scaly patches on your skin and check out any moles at least once a month. Visit your dermatologist for a professional exam at least once a year. Do all that and you might prevent the following three cancers.
Actinic Keratoses and the Three Major Skin Cancer Types
Actinic keratoses are the dry scaly patches that sometimes show up on your body, usually during middle age. People who've spent a lot of time in the sun, especially those with light skin, tend to be more susceptible. These dry skin patches should be checked out as soon as possible because they are considered precancerous. Left untreated, they may turn into skin cancer. Three major types are listed below.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
One of the most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma is one of the easiest types to cure if it's caught early. It doesn't usually show up until your skin has been exposed to the sun for several years. The small tumors, looking like shiny bumps, usually show up on the face. If you've had lots of sun exposure, or have fair skin, you may find them on your legs, arms and anywhere else on your body. This is one cancer that does not usually spread to other organs or parts of the body. Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly, which also helps make it easier to cure.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is fairly slow growing, but unlike the basal cell variety, this cancer has a greater chance of spreading to your bones, soft tissues, and the lymph nodes. It is the second most common of the skin cancers and is caused mainly by UV ray exposure from the sun or tanning beds. Fair skinned people are more likely to get it, usually after years of UV exposure. If treated early, before it spreads beyond the skin lesions, it is easily treated. Caught early, squamous cell carcinoma can be cured.
The most serious and deadly type of skin cancer is melanoma. This cancer often develops in an existing mole, or shows up as a new mole-like structure on the skin. Suspect moles may have irregular borders or be asymmetrical, meaning that the two sides of the mole don't match. Moles that are larger than 6mm in diameter should be checked out immediately, as should those having several different colors. Sometimes existing moles change from perfect round pinpoints to large spots having lacy borders. Melanoma spreads quickly, both on the skin's surface and throughout the body, and can be fatal if not caught early.
For more information, contact local professionals like Vail Dermatology.