Data from the various cancer agencies indicate that at least one in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime. The biggest risk for skin cancer is sun exposure. Sun exposure can lead to exposure of dangerous UV rays which can cause skin damage. Over time this skin damage degenerates into a skin cancer. Of all races, Caucasians and those with fair skinned are most prone to development of skin cancers.
Fortunately, there is a great deal of awareness and the majority of skin cancers are detected in their early stages. When the cancers are detected early, the treatments are curative.
Different skin cancers have different signs, but in general all of them produce a lesion on the skin which is different compared to normal skin. The typical features of skin cancers include:
- On the sun exposed areas (shoulders, neck, face, head) you may develop a raised smooth shiny bump. These lesions may show evidence of crusting and bleeding in the center. These lesions do not disappear or heal
- On the sun exposed areas one may see a red, scaly lesion. This lesion may bleed or ulcerate. Normally common on the face and arms. These lesions continue to grow
- Sudden appearance of black or blue lesions. These dark circular lesions may change their shape, size, bleed, increase in size or change color
- New mole that causes itching, bleeding or increases in size
Skin cancer is curable if the cancer is detected early. One should see their physician if they have any suspicious skin changes or lesions that demonstrate:
- sudden change in size, color, shape or color of a mole
- skin lesion (mole) that changes it appearance and has started to bleed and become painful
- new sores or lesions
- lesions that are not healing
- any skin growth which is unusual and continues to grow
Avoidance of sun exposure and use of appropriate sunscreen products is the best way to prevent all skin malignancies.