How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer
For all types of skin cancer, the first lines of defense are awareness and prevention. Prevention steps center on avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure from both sunlight and tanning beds. This means staying out of the sun, especially when the suns rays are strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; using a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and covering exposed skin with protective clothing when outdoors, even on a cloudy day.
Perform a skin self-exam
How Are Moles Evaluated
If you find a mole or spot that has any ABCDE’s of melanoma — or one that’s tender, itching, oozing, scaly, doesn’t heal or has redness or swelling beyond the mole — see a doctor. Your doctor may want to remove a tissue sample from the mole and biopsy it. If found to be cancerous, the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it will be removed and the wound stitched closed. Additional treatment may be needed.
How To Identify Types Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer comes in three forms: Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer because it is the most likely to spread to the lymph nodes and other organs. Only a doctor can tell you for sure which type of cancer you might have, but there are some differences between the types of skin cancer that you can observe on your own body. Read on to find out what those differences are.
Things Youll Need
- Standard pencil eraserCamera
Tips & Warnings
- Sunburns and exposure to sun can greatly increase your chance of getting skin cancer, so be sure to protect your skin with clothing and sunscreen.
- See a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you may have skin cancer. Melanoma is treatable if caught early, but can be deadly if allowed to spread.
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How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Melanoma
When you see a board-certified dermatologist, your dermatologist will:
Examine your skin carefully
Ask questions about your health, medications, and symptoms
Want to know if melanoma runs in your family
If any spot on your skin looks like skin cancer, your dermatologist will first numb the area and then remove all of it. This can be done during an office visit and is called a skin biopsy. This is a simple procedure, which a dermatologist can quickly, safely, and easily perform.
Having a skin biopsy is the only way to know for sure whether you have skin cancer.
The tissue that your dermatologist removes will be sent to a lab, where a doctor, such as a dermatopathologist, will examine it under a high-powered microscope. The doctor is looking for cancer cells.
What this doctor sees while looking at your tissue will be explained in the pathology report, including whether cancer cells were seen. If melanoma cells are seen, the report will include many important details, including:
The type of melanoma
How deeply the melanoma tumor has grown into the skin
How quickly the melanoma cells are growing and dividing
If its possible to tell the stage of the melanoma, the report will include this information.
Stages of melanoma
Heres an explanation of what each stage of melanoma means:
Stages of melanoma
The melanoma has spread to either: One or more nearby lymph node Nearby skin
Once the stage is known, the next step is treatment.
How Your Phone Can Help You Spot Skin Cancer
Telemedicine is a growing field, and skin care is not to be left out: Over the last several years, a handful of skin cancer detection apps popped up allowing you to analyze your skin with your smartphone and artificial intelligence algorithms.;
Some send photos to a dermatologist, some provide instant feedback and others offer helpful reminders about self-checking your skin and scheduling a doctor’s appointment.;
Here are a few you can download on iOS and Android.;
Miiskin uses hi-res digital photography to capture magnified photos of moles on your skin.;
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Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy
A;sentinel lymph node biopsy is a procedure to test for the spread of cancer.
It may be offered to people with stage 1B to 2C melanoma. Itâs done at the same time as surgical excision.
Youâll decide with your doctor whether to have a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
If you decide to have the procedure;and the results show no spread to nearby lymph nodes, itâs unlikely youâll have further problems with this melanoma.
If the results confirm melanoma has spread to nearby nodes, your specialist will discuss with you whether further surgery is required.
Additional surgery involves removing the remaining nodes, which is known as a lymph node dissection or completion lymphadenectomy.
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Potential Benefits Of Skin Cancer Detection Apps
Healthcare professionals have expressed two main arguments related to skin cancer detection apps. The first raises concern that people may rely on apps and consumer devices to assess their risk of skin cancer, which could lead to delayed diagnosis. The second praises these apps for raising awareness among the public and encouraging people to take better care of their skin.;
Both arguments are valid.
In the SkinVision study, for example, the researchers say, “We see the main potential for the smartphone applications in the improvement of the patient-doctor communication by making aware of the need of skin cancer screening and by giving a basis of interaction.”
Additionally, apps like MoleScope that send images to dermatologists can serve as the first step in receiving a professional exam. All skin cancer biopsies begin with a visual exam, after all. However, you shouldn’t use any at-home app or device to replace professional medical care for any condition.;
Most skin cancer app developers know this and include a disclaimer on their websites that their app is not a replacement for professional healthcare.;
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What Should I Look For When Checking My Skin
Look for any new moles or changes in your skin, especially any of the following:
- A new lump, growth or spot
- A change in size, shape, and/or color of an existing mole, lump or growth
- A sore that doesnt heal
- A red or brown patch thats rough and scaly
- A pink pearly bump that bleeds easily
- Any mole or spot that is asymmetrical, or has an irregular border or uneven color
- Any mole or spot larger than ¼ of an inch
Types Of Skin Cancer And How To Spot Them
If you learn only one thing about skin cancer, it should be this word:;melanoma.;
Melanoma is the equivalent of a budding terrorist hanging out with a bunch of high;school pranksters. None of them is up to any good;;but one of them is really,;really dangerous.;
If you suspect you may have melanoma, dont assume it will be like that growth your cousin had on his cheek from golfing so much. Just because he delayed seeing a doctor until he returned from summer vacation doesnt mean you have that luxury of time as well. You probably dont.;
Melanoma is a five-alarm problem that demands immediate attention. Not a head-to-the-emergency-room crisis, but one necessitating an appointment with a doctor sooner rather than later.;When detected early, the;five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.;
The paradox of skin cancer is that the types causing the most cases result in the fewest number of deaths. Yet melanoma, which is far less common, accounts for the biggest number of deaths.;
With that in mind, heres what to look for:;;
Basal cell carcinoma. Photo courtesy of The Skin Cancer Foundation
Basal Cell Carcinoma;
With an estimated 3.6 million cases a year, it accounts for 80%;of nonmelanoma;cancers.;Its warning signs:;;;;
Squamous cell carcinoma. Photo courtesy of The Skin Cancer Foundation
Squamous Cell Carcinoma;
Acral lentiginous melanoma. Photo courtesy of WebMD
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Types Of Skin Cancer:
Basal Cell found mainly in areas exposed to the sun, very common and usually very treatable. Detected at an early stage and removed promptly are almost always curable and cause minimal damage.Squamous Cell typically develops in chronic sun-exposed areas of your body.Melanoma more likely to grow and spread than the more common typesMerkel Cell very rare and tends to grow quickly, may be hard to treat if it spreads past beyond the skin
What Skin Cancer Looks Like
Skin cancer appears on the body in many different ways. It can look like a:
Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others
Non-healing sore or sore that heals and returns
Brown or black streak under a nail
It can also show up in other ways.
To find skin cancer on your body, you dont have to remember a long list. Dermatologists sum it up this way. Its time to see a dermatologist if you notice a spot on your skin that:
Differs from the others
To make it easy for you to check your skin, the AAD created the Body Mole Map. Youll find everything you need to know on a single page. Illustrations show you how to examine your skin and what to look for. Theres even place to record what your spots look like. Youll find this page, which you can print, at Body Mole Map.
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Preparing For Your Appointment
If you have any concerns about the health of your skin, it is important to share them with your doctor. After making an appointment, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and make the most of your time with your doctor.
Here are some things to consider and be prepared to discuss before visiting the clinic or hospital:
What symptoms are you experiencing ?
When did you first notice your symptoms?
Have there been any major changes or stressors in your life recently?
What medications and/or vitamins are you taking?
What questions do you have for your doctor?
The Following Way To Examine Skin Cancer :
To recognize skin cancer, start by examining your body for any spots, moles, or bumps.
Then, look closely at these spots for signs that they may be cancerous.
Pay attention to any changes in your skin, and have them evaluated by a healthcare professional.
You should speak to your doctor for an official diagnosis.
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A Primer On Skin Cancer
Malignant melanoma, especially in the later stages, is serious and treatment is difficult. Early diagnosis and treatment can increase the survival rate. Nonmelanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both are common and are almost always cured when found early and treated. People who’ve had skin cancer once are at risk for getting it again; they should get a checkup at least once a year.
The Stage Of Melanoma Depends On The Thickness Of The Tumor Whether Cancer Has Spread To Lymph Nodes Or Other Parts Of The Body And Other Factors
To find out the stage of melanoma, the tumor is completely removed and nearby lymph nodes are checked for signs of cancer. The stage of the cancer is used to determine which treatment is best. Check with your doctor to find out which stage of cancer you have.
The stage of melanoma depends on the following:
- The thickness of the tumor. The thickness of the tumor is measured from the surface of the skin to the deepest part of the tumor.
- Whether there are:
- Satellite tumors: Small groups of tumor cells that have spread within 2 centimeters of the primary tumor.
- Microsatellite tumors: Small groups of tumor cells that have spread to an area right beside or below the primary tumor.
- In-transit metastases: Tumors that have spread to lymph vessels in the skin more than 2 centimeters away from the primary tumor, but not to the lymph nodes.
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Skin Cancer Diagnosis Always Requires A Skin Biopsy
When you see a dermatologist because youve found a spot that might be skin cancer, your dermatologist will examine the spot.
If the spot looks like it could be a skin cancer, your dermatologist will remove it all or part of it. This can easily be done during your appointment. The procedure that your dermatologist uses to remove the spot is called a skin biopsy.
Having a skin biopsy is essential. Its the only way to know whether you have skin cancer. Theres no other way to know for sure.
What your dermatologist removes will be looked at under a microscope. The doctor who examines the removed skin will look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, your biopsy report will tell you what type of skin cancer cells were found. When cancer cells arent found, your biopsy report will explain what was seen under the microscope.
Look Out For An Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is another warning sign of melanoma. This recognition strategy is based on the concept that most normal moles on your body resemble one another, while melanomas stand out like ugly ducklings in comparison. This highlights the importance of not just checking for irregularities, but also comparing any suspicious spot to surrounding moles to determine whether it looks different from its neighbors. These ugly duckling lesions or outlier lesions can be larger, smaller, lighter or darker, compared to surrounding moles. Also, isolated lesions without any surrounding moles for comparison are considered ugly ducklings.
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Reduce Risks Of Melanoma
If limited or avoidance of the sun is not possible, always apply a strong, natural sunscreen. Certain types of commercial sunscreen contain harsh or toxic chemicals.
- Cyanidins are present in many species of berries and these pigments offer powerful protection from damaging sun rays and free radicals.
- Sesame oil is effective against 30% of ultraviolet rays.
- Coconut;and;olive;oils;offer protection from about 20% of UV rays.
- High concentrations of antioxidants are found in numerous fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are effective in combating as well as preventing cell damage from harmful sun rays.
How To Detect Skin Cancer
When it comes to skin cancer, we have some good news and some bad news.
First, the bad news: skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Each year, nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer, and in the last three decades, more Americans have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
But heres the good news: You can often see the early warning signs of skin cancer…without an x-ray or blood test or special diagnostic procedure. If you know what to look for and take action when you see it, most skin cancers can be detected and treated at early stages, when they are most curable.
Even for melanoma, a more dangerous skin cancer type that is more likely to spread to other body areas, the five-year survival rate is 99% for people whose melanoma is detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes.
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Basal Cell Skin Cancer
Basal cell cancer can occur anywhere on the body, but it typically develops on areas regularly exposed to the sun. This type of cancer may appear on your face, neck, or other body parts in the form of:
Flat patches of spots, or lesions, which may be red, purple, or brown in color
Slightly raised, brown or reddish lesions
Fully raised, bumpy lesions with a red or brown color
If you think you may be experiencing any of the symptoms of different skin cancers described above, you should call a doctor to discuss your symptoms. You may find that you simply have a large, non-cancerous mole, and can have your concerns put to rest by a professional. On the other hand, your doctor may be able to diagnose your condition and recommend treatment sooner rather than later. Either way, it is best to be on the side of caution and speak with your doctor about what youve noticed.
The Abcdes Of Melanoma
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves dont match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Color. Multiple colors are a;warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colors red, white or blue;may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark.;While its ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, its a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colorless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
If you notice these warning signs, or anything NEW, CHANGING or UNUSUAL on your skin see a dermatologist promptly.
A is for Asymmetry
D is for Diameter or Dark
E is for Evolving
E is for Evolving
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