Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. 9,500 people in the U.S. a day are diagnosed with some form of it. Skin cancer is non-discriminatory based on age or race. The good thing is, if detected early enough, most skin cancer is highly curable.
Dr. Katherine Stealey of Springfield Clinic says cancer rates are increasing.
“Skin cancer is becoming more prevalent and it actually is quite common especially for the most common form of skin cancer which is basal cell carcinoma. However, all three of the skin cancers are increasing and that includes melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Luckily, we now have better education and so we are educating the public more about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and tanning beds and how those can impact someone’s health down the road.”
Dr. Stealey says to keep an eye on your skin regularly.
“It is important o be monitoring your skin. I always recommend for my patients that they are doing a self skin exam by checking themselves over with the help of a full length mirror at home at least once a month. That way, you can be aware of the spots that are on your skin and be aware if something is changing, so you want to watch for either a new lesion or a changing lesion. If you have molds or freckles, you want to watch those as well for we use the A-B-C-D-E guidelines that have been around for a while now to help with those.”
She describes the A-B-C-D-E method of self-checks.
“You want to be looking at spots if they have a symmetry, if they have border irregularity, if there is a color change, if the size is changing which is based off of the D in the guidelines which stands for diameter, or if the spots are changing in general which is based off of the E in the guidelines which stands for evolution. Also, be on the lookout for a growth or spot that is bleeding. Spots that are bleeding need to be evaluated and likely removed and spots that are not healing needs to be evaluated as well. So, if somebody has a little sore or growth on their skin, that after a week or two is not wanting to heal, they need to get it checked out because that can be an indicator of skin cancer. Also, if there is a growth on the skin that is rapidly growing, that should always be evaluated. Sometimes itching can also be a sign of a spot that should be evaluated and looked at too.”
Basil Cell Carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common and treatable cancers with melanoma being the third most common and deadliest, said Dr. Stealey. If you have detected an abnormality on your skin, schedule a skin cancer screening with your health care provider right away so they refer you to a dermatologist for further evaluation.