According to the American Academy Dermatology, one in 5 people will develop a skin cancer sometime in their lives. Decades or a lifetime of sun exposure increases the risk of developing a skin cancer. Fortunately, since the skin is readily visible at all times, skin cancer can be easily detectable. This is a huge advantage over internal cancers that are often not diagnosed until there are systemic symptoms.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The least dangerous and most common skin cancer is Basal Cell Carcinoma. It presents as a pearly bump or nodule on the skin which can later ulcerate and bleed. These are slow growing and usually found on the head and neck areas of the body.
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Squamous Cell Carcinoma
It is primarily found in fair skinned individuals and usually on sun exposed areas such as ears, face, scalp, arms, and lower legs. It can present as a flat or nodular lesion with a very hard scaly surface. When treated and detected early the cure rate for both BCC & SCC approaches 95%.
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The third type of skin cancer is melanoma, a deadly and dangerous, “black mole”. Melanoma develops from pigment producing melanocytes as a new dark lesion or in pre-existing moles. These cells reproduce uncontrollably and can invade distant body organs (metastasis). Sudden rapid growth or dramatic color change is a flag to visit a dermatologist immediately.
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If you have a family history or spent a lot of time in the sun you should see a dermatologist every year for a skin exam. To detect skin cancer early you can have a skin cancer specialist do a screening exam to assure you that any existing spots, freckles or moles are normal.