Why Skin Cancer Awareness Month Matters

Why Skin Cancer Awareness Month Matters

Every year, thousands of new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed at all stages. Some are lucky enough to catch it when it’s just a small mole that’s easily removed. If it’s not detected early on, skin cancer can flourish and grow. Once it reaches the later stages, it requires much more aggressive treatments if it can be treated at all.

While any serious condition should be treated with the utmost care, skin cancer is the most common type. This includes the full range from small to deadly moles and lesions. May is dedicated to greater public awareness about melanoma. Experts encourage patients to get regular screenings, especially if they have a family or other history of skin cancer. Estimates suggest over 3.5 million cases of skin cancer and 2 million people are diagnosed each year.

Facts Everybody Should Know about Skin Cancer

Melanoma doesn’t discriminate between people of different ages or races. Anybody can be affected, and dermatology professionals in Scottsdale will do whatever we can to help. In 2015 alone, 73,870 new melanomas were recorded. The risk does increase over time with the average age of diagnosis being 62. It’s also more common in white people than black people.

The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Experts estimate 2.8 million are diagnosed each year. The good news is this common form of cancer is rarely fatal, especially when treated early. If it goes untreated, it’s more likely to lead to disfigurement. Actinic keratosis is also considered to be precancerous. So treating it at this first stage can save lives.

By age 65, 40-50% of Americans will develop some form of skin cancer. Some will develop these cells more than once. The good news is with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is as high as 97%. When the disease is caught only in the advanced stages, it falls to 15-20%.

Who’s at Risk of Skin Cancer?

Skin type is one of the primary contributors to a higher risk of skin cancer. Dermatology professionals in Scottsdale break up patients into six skin phototypes. I and II face the highest risk. V and VII as you might expect face the lowest risk with darker skin tones. Greater pigmentation levels protect patients from skin cancer. This doesn’t mean people with darker skin are immune. They can still get skin cancer if they don’t take care of their skin. The risk is just significantly lower with the same amount of UV exposure.

Skin color isn’t the only factor that comes into play. Ongoing sun exposure elevates your risk for skin cancer. Smoking is also a major risk factor for lung, mouth, and throat cancer as you might expect. Kidney, bladder, and other cancers are also more common among smokers. These types of risk factors don’t affect all patients the same way. Genetics also play a factor in who faces a greater risk with the same exposure.

Watch Moles to Prevent Skin Cancer

Sometimes people with minimal risk factors end up facing aggressive skin cancer. Those with several major risk factors might never face skin cancer at all. So be careful to watch moles closely. Things like asymmetrical moles or those that have different colors within the same mole can be a sign of skin cancer. Any change in existing moles also presents an increased risk of cancer.

If you notice things like scaliness or bleeding or pain or itchiness, you should also take notice. Sometimes, it’s not cancer. Getting in to see your doctor at your earliest convenience is crucial. This allows doctors to inspect your moles and find problems before they turn deadly.

Prevent Skin Cancer before It Starts

One of the primary parts of skin cancer awareness is prevention. A dermatology professional in Scottsdale can help you address problems as they happen. Things like wearing stronger sunscreen can reduce your risk before it happens. Even one significant burn or regular exposure without protection can put you at risk. Always remember to reapply throughout the day.

Even if you think you’re doing everything the right, make sure to examine your skin on a monthly basis. Schedule appointments at the first sign of skin cancer. This will help you reduce the likelihood of serious problems and feel better overall. To learn more about skin cancer and how to prevent it, don’t wait. Click here and schedule an appointment to talk to a dermatologist today.

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