Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States affecting two million people per year. It is important to know the basics about the types of skin cancers there are and their signs as well as ways to prevent it.
Skin cancer types are named after the layer of skin where they occur. Melanoma, Basal Cell and Squamous cell skin cancers are the most commonly diagnosed.
- Melanoma starts in the skin pigment cells, which are the cells that create the coloring found in our skin. Melanoma can be found on any surface of the skin. Melanomas are characterized by having a mole-like look to them. If you have an existing mole, keep an eye out for changes in the surface and edging of the mole for growth or creation of irregular edging.
- Basal Cell cancer starts in the basal cellular layer of our skin. Basal Cell cancer is more commonly found on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun more often. It is the most common skin cancer for people who have fair skin.
- Squamous Cell cancer begins in the squamous cellular layer of the skin. It is possible for squamous cell cancer to break off from original affected area and spread to other areas within the body being transported through the lymph nodes.
- Both Basal Cell and Squamous Cell cancers appear as growths on the surface of the skin or sores that don’t heal.
Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Although this quote refers to fire prevention, it is a quote well worth using in all situations that warrant our awareness. Skin Cancer has many preventative measures we can take to help ourselves.
- The first, see your Dermatologist. She/he can do a thorough check of your entire body to make sure no cancerous spots are present. Going annually helps with continuity of care and changes are picked up more quickly by a physician that sees you regularly.
- Another preventative step is to spend less time outdoors in the direct sun when the rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m..
- Daily prevention by purchasing sunscreen is another good ounce of prevention. Jason makes a good natural sunscreen product that is not oily, paraben free and is a broad spectrum lotion protecting you from both UVA and UVB rays. It is best to apply sunscreen daily.
- A fourth preventative idea is by purchasing clothing that has a 40 UPF rating and is made with fabrics that assist in blocking out the rays of the sun. Clothing with sun protection can be purchased at REI either in store or on-line.
- One last method of prevention is wearing makeup that has SPF protection when applied. Dr. Leslie Baumann from Miller School of Medicine in Miami says that research shows it is still necessary to wear sunscreen even when you have applied makeup that contains protection from the sun. Cover girl carries a product called “Advanced Radiance” that has an SPF of 10 that is non-oily and easy to wear in combination with natural sunscreen products.
Eminence Mineral Sunscreen with SPF - $58.00
For more information about skin cancer types, symptoms, treatment and prevention, please visit the National Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov.