The sun is good for many things like providing light, helping plants grow and warming the earth. One thing the sun is not good for, is your skin. The sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are responsible for wrinkles, age spots and tans. Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) are known for causing sunburns. Both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer. These rays reach the earth every day, even on cloudy days UV rays can damage the skin in many ways. It is important to stay protected when in the sun as UV rays have lasting effects that many times don’t catch up to you until later in life.
One of the most dangerous effects of sun damage is skin cancer. Skin cancer may not always present as an irregular looking mole. There are several different types of skin cancer that everyone should be aware of. These include:
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) may look like a flesh colored, pearly bump with tiny blood vessels around the area or a pinkish patch of skin. BCC frequently develops in people with fair skin, but it can occur on all skin colors. If you have a lesion suspicious of this type of cancer, a small sample can be taken for biopsy and a definitive diagnosis can be made. With early treatment, this skin cancer can be cured with procedures like Mohs surgery. Left untreated, basal cell carcinoma can cause bleeding and severe disfigurement. Basal cell carcinoma is a very common form of skin cancer, more than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can look like a red scaly patch, firm raised bump or a sore than heals and reopens again. People with light skin are more likely to develop this type of skin cancer, however, this can form in people with dark skin especially those with scarring. With early detection squamous cell carcinoma has a high cure rate. Left untreated, SCC can be disfiguring and in some cases can spread to other parts of the body. About 700,00 cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
Melanoma is the most deadliest form of skin cancer seen in around 90,000 patients each year. Melanoma may develop from a pre existing mole on your body or can form an entirely new dark spot. Melanoma can contain shades of red, blue or white. Left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and can be deadly.
It is important to know the ABCDE’s of melanoma when observing moles throughout the body at home.
Asymmetry - normal moles on the body are usually symmetrical which means if it were to be cut in half, both sides would look the same. Observe for any moles that have an irregular shape and do not look the same on either side.
Border- You should be concerned if the border or outside edge of a mole has a scalloped or notched border.
Color - Observe for moles that are a mixture of multiple colors including different shades of brown or black
Diameter - If the mole is large than the size of a pencil eraser
Evolution - if you notice a pre existing mole getting bigger, changing colors or raising up.
Check your birthday suit on your birthday
If you have a family history of skin cancer, a history of excessive sun exposure or severe sunburns or numerous amounts of moles throughout the body, it is recommended to have skin exams by a dermatologist at least one a year to monitor for any new or concerning lesions. It is important to be aware of any lesions on the skin that have changed, begun to bleed, enlarge or change color. You should be concerned about any lesions that have not healed after three months.