May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Anne Arundel Dermatology has some advice

| May 12, 2017
Rams Head

While May brings warmer weather and the beauty of fresh blooms, Skin Cancer Awareness Month also offers an opportunity to reflect on the importance of protecting our skin (and eyes) from the sun.

Not-so-Sunny Statistics

Despite increasing public awareness of the risk factors for skin cancer, the statistics continue to mount. For instance:

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are diagnosed each year than all other cancers combined including breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers.
  • Doctors will diagnose about 9,500 skin cancers per day in 2017.
  • Melanoma is considered the most serious form of skin cancer; its overall incidence has doubled in the U.S. from 1982-2011.
  • More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer are linked to indoor tanning.

Squamous Say What?

Melanoma, which commonly presents as a new or changing mole, is the deadliest form of skin cancer. However, Squamous cell carcinoma and Basal cell carcinoma are melanoma’s more prevalent counterparts.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually appears as a persistent, rough, scaly patch or bump.

Basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, often presents as a pink or flesh colored papule or scaly, pink patch often found on sun-exposed skin.

Learn more about the different types of skin cancer here.

Stay Cool, Stay Covered

It’s natural to slather on sunscreen when heading to the pool or beach, but we expose ourselves to the sun’s dangerous rays during many of our more common daily activities. Consider whether you applied sunscreen the last time you:

  • Mowed the grass
  • Played golf
  • Rolled down your car window or sunroof
  • Went jogging or rode a bike
  • Took the dog for a walk
  • Sat outside at a sporting event or practice

It is imperative to apply sunscreen and cover up with wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and protective clothing and swim gear whenever possible. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater at least 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Use one ounce (one full shot glass) of sunscreen to cover your entire body. Reapply every two hours, or hourly if you’re swimming or sweating. Your skin will thank you.

Early Detection is Key

As mentioned above, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Each year in the U.S., more than 3.3 million people will be diagnosed with over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer. But the good news is that skin cancer can be easily cured if it is diagnosed and treated early. When allowed to progress, however, skin cancer can result in disfigurement and even death.

Examine your skin regularly. If you note any change in an existing mole, freckle, or other lesion on your skin, don’t ignore it. Early detection is key. Make an appointment with a dermatologist.

The Benefits of Mohs

While many might fear the scars often associated with skin cancer removal, there are more cosmetically elegant options now available. One excellent option for the treatment of skin cancer arising in certain regions of the body is Mohs micrographic surgery. Mohs surgery is considered a tissue sparing surgery, and the technique allows the surgeon to see where the skin cancer stops. This is important in areas with little spare tissue (nose, eyes, ears, etc.), and it results in a high cure rate.

Check Off Your Check-Up

Just like a yearly flu shot, an annual skin check is crucial for early detection of skin cancer. Skin cancer can progress rapidly, so if you see something suspicious, don’t wait! Most dermatology offices will quickly accommodate appointments for the examination of a concerning lesion. At Anne Arundel Dermatology, we guarantee an appointment for an emergent spot check within two business days.

Even if you don’t think you have any concerning lesions, we recommend that all adults, particularly those with risk factors for skin cancer, undergo a baseline, full skin exam every year. Skin cancers often lurk where you either can’t see them or wouldn’t think to look.

If you don’t have a dermatologist, you can make an appointment with Anne Arundel Dermatology here.

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