What you need to know about skin cancer

skin cancer2What is Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a term that is used to define any type of cancer that affects the skin. It is estimated that close to 50% of the population will be affected by some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. Radiation from the sun is the most frequent cause of skin cancer. The earth’s ozone layer acts as a filter to block out the dangerous UVA and UVB rays but unfortunately, as this layer becomes depleted, it’s ability to protect the earth from the sun’s harmful rays is reduced.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  1. Melanoma
  2. Basal Cell Skin Cancer
  3. Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

Although these three types of cancer differ slightly, many of the signs and symptoms that you should look for are the same.

What are the Signs of Skin Cancer

It is important to notice any changes in the appearance of your skin. Notice if there are any new moles, blemishes or lesions that appear and continue to grow in size or change in appearance. Moles that are not symmetrical, have different colours or dark spots throughout them, have jagged or uneven edges or look different from any other moles on your body should be checked out by a doctor.

Also see your doctor if you develop a sore that does not heal, a painful or itchy spot on the skin or any new or unusual nodules or bumps or if a previous mole or lump changes in size, shape or colour.

Who is at Risk
The people most at risk for skin cancer are those with light skin, however anyone can develop skin cancer. Those with a history of frequent exposure to the sun, excessive sunburns or a family history of skin cancer are all at a higher risk for developing this disease.

The importance of Prevention and Early Detection

Taking steps to prevent skin cancer can help to keep your skin healthy and keep you from developing cancerous lesions later in life.

  1. Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed areas and reapply frequently
  2. Reduce the amount of time that is spent in the sun
  3. Although UVA and UVB rays can still penetrate clothing, keeping skin covered while outside can help to reduce your exposure to these harmful rays.

Another important factor is the early detection of any unusual growths. Skin cancer can often be easily treated, especially if it is found quickly and in the early stages of growth. Inspect your skin regularly, including the palms of your hands and soles of your feet and have someone inspect the areas that you can’t see, like your back. Doing this frequently will bring any changes to your attention and you will be able to notice any abnormalities quickly and have them looked after before they develop into a more serious condition.

If you notice anything unusual about your skin or would like to know more about skin cancer, you can speak with one of our dermatologists via voice, text, or video by clicking here to book a consultation. You can also search and talk to our dermatologists and other doctors at www.mylivemd.com

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January 17th, 2016 by