Skin Cancer Awareness month

As you might know, May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Here at Narra Dermatology and Aesthetics, we would like to encourage you to perform regular self-examinations as skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States with approximately 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually.

Although anyone is susceptible, you are at the highest risk for skin cancer if you are over 40 years of age, have fair skin, have experienced prolonged sun exposure, and/or have utilized tanning beds. Cancerous growths can appear anywhere on the body, so it is crucial that you examine yourself thoroughly.

These are the four main varieties of skin cancer and their biggest indicators:

  • Actinic Keratoses (AK) takes the form of dry, scaly skin patches caused by years of sun exposure often to places like the head, neck, and forearms. They are precancerous and often give way to SCC.
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC); this is the most common type of skin cancer and takes the appearance of raised, pinkish bumps. If left untreated, it can cause damage to nerves and bones.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) usually looks like a firm, red bump or persistent sore, and like BCC, if left untreated it can cause disfigurement by spreading to internal structures.
  • Melanoma first appears as a mole that is irregular in shape and/or color. It is imperative to seek early diagnosis and treatment, as melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
    • SPOT Skin Cancer™ at The American Academy of Dermatology suggests evaluating suspicious moles with the ABCDE's of melanoma:
      • Asymmetry
      • Border (irregular)
      • Color (varied, inconsistent)
      • Diameter (usually greater than 6mm when diagnosed, but can be smaller)
      • Evolving

The good news is that you can considerably reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by taking these precautionary measures:

  • Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen when expecting to be outdoors for prolonged periods of time (even if the sky is overcast)
  • Wear protective clothing and take advantage of shade where possible
  • Take vitamin D supplements as opposed to seeking it from the sun
  • Use self-tanning product instead of harmful tanning beds (the World Health Organization considers tanning beds to increase one's cancer risk as dramatically as tobacco)
  • Perform regular cancer self-checks and most importantly, if you spot any sudden abnormalities in the appearance of your skin, seek immediate medical attention from a board-certified dermatologist like Dr. Narra.

 

 

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