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Education

The 411 on Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma  is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer.  In recent years, there has  been a startling upturn in the number of young women who are diagnosed  with this type of skin cancer, and the rise is blamed on the popularity  of sunbathing and tanning salons.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer  in the United States; in fact 1 in 5 Americans,  will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. People of all colors and  races can get skin cancer. There are many different types of skin  cancer, including actinic keratoses (AK), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma.   BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer, but melanoma is  the most deadly. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for BCC and SCC is about 95 percent.    When melanoma is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure  rate. Regular self-skin exams and a yearly examination by a  dermatologist help people find early skin cancers. 


Know the ABCs of Melanoma

Knowing the "ABCs" or signs of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin  cancer, can help you catch it early when it is most curable.

  • A (Asymmetry) — Melanomas often have an asymmetrical border, whereas benign moles are usually symmetrical.
  • B (Border irregularity) — Melanomas often have ragged or notched borders, whereas benign moles usually don't.
  • C (Color) — Melanomas often contain multiple shades of brown or black within a single mole, whereas benign moles are generally one shade.
  • D (Diameter) — Early melanomas are often 6mm or larger, while benign moles are generally less than 6mm.
  • E (Evolution) — The symmetry, border, color or diameter of a mole has changed over time.

The ABCDE rule is a good guide to the common signs of melanoma.  Notify your primary care doctor or dermatologist if you find spots that  match the descriptions below. Some melanomas don't fit the ABCDE rule so  be aware of changes on your skin.


Know How to Recognize Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma  is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer.  In recent years, there has  been a startling upturn in the number of young women who are diagnosed  with this type of skin cancer, and the rise is blamed on the popularity  of sunbathing and tanning salons.

Basal cell carcinoma is rarely fatal and does not normally spread,  but it is still important to catch it in the early stages so that the  surgical removal is as non-invasive as possible.

Basal cell carcinomas occur on sun-exposed areas and often look like pink bumps with the following features:

  • Pearly or waxy appearance
  • Sunken center
  • Irregular blood vessels on the surface
  • Tendency to bleed easily after injury

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer after basal cell  carcinoma. It is rarely deadly, but may spread or recur if not caught  early.

Squamous cell carcinoma is often found on the head, hands, ears, back  of neck and forearms — areas with more sun exposure. If any of the  descriptions below apply to you, have the area  checked.

  • Raised, dull-red skin lesion
  • Thick crusted scale
  • Ulcerated appearance

Source: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/skin_cancer_prevention/

Learn More

The American Cancer Society has more information about the various types of skin cancer.