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What Age Can You Get Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer: Facts Statistics And You

What You Should Know About Skin Cancer

Skin cancer refers to any cancer that begins in your skin. It may develop on any part of your skin and can spread to nearby tissues and organs if the disease advances.

There are two main types of skin cancer:

  • Keratinocyte cancer develops in skin cells called keratinocytes. It has two main subtypes, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma .
  • Melanoma develops in skin melanocyte cells. Melanocytes are skin cells that generate skins brown pigment.

Other types of skin cancer include:

  • Merkel cell carcinoma

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More people receive skin cancer diagnoses each year in the United States than all other cancers combined, including breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer.

Each case of skin cancer is considered unique if a doctor believes its a separate cancer. A person may have multiple different types and cases of skin cancer.

Each year, more than 3 million Americans are affected by BCC or SCC, estimates the American Academy of Dermatology. Having one skin cancer diagnosis puts you at a higher risk for having another, too, but there are preventive measures you can take.

Here are the main types of skin cancer:

How Can You Reduce Your Childs Risk Of Skin Cancer

Summer Safety

Johns Hopkins pediatric dermatologists, from left, Katherine Puttgen, Bernard Cohen and Annie Grossberg

Gary Logan

One of the fastest growing cancers among adults, skin cancer is becoming increasingly prevalent in children and teens, too. Yet, it is also one of the most preventable cancers. Proper, protective skin care, especially in the summer months, can help prevent its development in childhood, and subsequently in adulthood. That tan you might think is healthy even a rite of childhood is evidence, already, of DNA damage. Johns Hopkins pediatric dermatologist Annie Grossberg addresses some of the issues.

What causes skin cancer?

For generations, children have played in the sun. What has changed?

We do not understand fully all of the reasons behind the increasing incidence of melanoma in children and adolescents. However, one very significant modern factor appears to be exposure of teens and even younger children to tanning booths. Pre-teens and adolescents are increasingly modeling adult behavior and experimenting with tanning booths. As the cases of skin cancers in the young trend upwards, we also are getting better at identifying these cases.

As a pediatric dermatologist, what do you look for?

Can skin cancer be prevented?

How can parents protect their children?

What about protective eyewear?

What should we look for in a sunscreen in children over 6-months-of-age?

What about clothing?

But isnt sunlight a vital form of Vitamin D?

Where Does Bcc Develop

As the above pictures show, this skin cancer tends to develop on skin that has had lots of sun exposure, such as the face or ears. Its also common on the bald scalp and hands. Other common areas for BCC include, the shoulders, back, arms, and legs.

While rare, BCC can also form on parts of the body that get little or no sun exposure, such as the genitals.

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Understanding The Skin Cancer Screening Recommendations

Recent studies may have failed to show the effectiveness of routine screenings for melanoma for everyone, but dermatologists do still recommend yearly screenings.

“Generally speaking, I recommend that everyone starts getting an annual body check in early adulthood,” says Marc Glashofer, M.D., a skin cancer surgeon at the Dermatology Group in West Orange, New Jersey. “If you can vote, you should get your skin checked annually by a board-certified dermatologist.”

In part, that’s because the U.S. Task Force doesn’t take into account non-melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The recommendations are instead based off of death rates from melanoma, explains Hooman Khorasani, M.D., the chief of the division of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery and an assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Basal and squamous cell aren’t as deadly as melanoma, but they’re far more common. Every year, more than 3.3 million people in the U.S. are treated for these cancers.

Only a fraction of these cancers spread to other parts of the body, but catching them early can be the difference between easy removal and serious surgery that can have a significant impact on your life , says Dr. Khorasani.

Cancer Screening Guidelines By Age


The choices you make about diet, exercise, and other habits can affect your overall health as well as your risk for developing cancer and other serious diseases.

Its also important to follow recommendations for cancer screening tests. Screening tests are used to find cancer in people who have no symptoms. Regular screening gives you the best chance of finding cancer early when its small and before it has spread.

Health care facilities are providing cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic with many safety precautions in place. Learn how you can talk to your doctor and what steps you can take to plan, schedule, and get your regular cancer screenings in Cancer Screening During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The tabs below provide information on healthy lifestyle choices that can help lower your cancer risk, and cancer screening test recommendations by age.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can show up on the skin in many ways. Also known as BCC, this skin cancer tends to grow slowly and can be mistaken for a harmless pimple, scar, or sore.

Common signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinoma

This skin cancer often develops on the head or neck and looks like a shiny, raised, and round growth.

To help you spot BCC before it grows deep into your skin, dermatologists share these 7 warning signs that could be easily missed.

If you find any of the following signs on your skin, see a board-certified dermatologist.

Checking Moles In Childhood Can Create A Healthy Lifelong Habit

Looking at moles and getting a worrisome one checked can teach your child how important it is to know your moles. If your child starts do this at an early age, its likely to become a lifelong habit.

ImagesChanging mole: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol 2011 64:559-72.

Spitz nevus: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol 2015 72:47-53.

Many moles: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol 2015 73:491-9.

Giant mole: Image used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol 2009 61:766-74.

Other images: Getty Images

ReferencesAber CG. Alvarez Connelly E, et al. Skin cancer in the pediatric population. In: Nouri K. Skin Cancer. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., China, 2008:415-6.

Cordoro KM, Gupta D, et al. Pediatric melanoma: Results of a large cohort study and proposal for modified ABCD detection criteria for children. J Am Acad Dermatol 2013 68:913-25.

Lovett, A, Maari C, et al. Large congenital melanocytic nevi and neurocutaneous melanocytosis: One pediatric centers experience. J Am Acad Dermatol 2009 61:766-74.

Mitkov M, Chrest M, et al. Pediatric melanomas often mimic benign skin lesions: A retrospective study. J Am Acad Dermatol 2016 75:706-11.

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Risk Factors And Causes Of Melanoma

Certain factors increase the risk for melanoma. These include having fair skin that burns easily, certain skin conditions, a family history of melanoma and/or unusual moles, and a history of sun exposure or sunburns. Melanoma is more common in adolescents.

  • Skin color: People with darker skin are less likely to develop melanoma. People who have fair skin, light or red hair, light colored eyes and tend to sunburn easily are at higher risk.
  • Skin conditions: People who are born with large dark spots on their skin called melanocytic nevi are more likely to develop melanoma. Certain inherited conditions such as xeroderma pigmentosum, retinoblastoma, and Werner syndrome can also increase risk.
  • Family history: Having a family history of melanoma or unusual moles increases a persons risk of melanoma.
  • UV light exposure: Ultraviolet radiation damages the DNA of skin cells. Sunlight is the main source of UV exposure. Tanning beds are another source of UV radiation. Exposure to sun and use of tanning beds is a significant risk factor for melanoma.
  • Sunburns: People with a history of blistering sunburns are more likely to develop melanoma.
  • Radiation therapy and prior cancer: Patients treated with radiation therapy have a higher risk of developing future melanoma.
  • Weakened immune system: Low immunity due to serious illness or transplant can increase risk for melanoma.

Advice About Using Sunbeds

Get a Free Skin Cancer Screening

The Health and Safety Executive issued advice on the health risks associated with UV tanning equipment, such as sunbeds, sunlamps and tanning booths.

They recommend you should not use UV tanning equipment if you:

  • have fair, sensitive skin that burns easily or tans slowly or poorly
  • have a history of sunburn, particularly in childhood
  • have lots of freckles or red hair
  • have lots of moles
  • are taking medicines or using creams that make your skin sensitive to sunlight
  • have a medical condition made worse by sunlight, such as vitiligo, a long-term skin condition caused by the lack of a chemical called melanin in the skin
  • have had skin cancer or someone in your family has had it
  • already have badly sun-damaged skin

The HSE advice also includes important points to consider before deciding to use a sunbed.

For example, if you decide to use a sunbed, the operator should advise you about your skin type and how long you should limit your session to.

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What Are Possible Complications Of Skin Cancer In A Child

Possible complications depend on the type and stage of skin cancer. Melanoma is more likely to cause complications. And the more advanced the cancer, the more likely there will be complications.

Complications may result from treatment, such as:

  • Loss of large areas of skin and underlying tissue

  • Scarring

  • Problems with the area healing

  • Infection in the area

  • Return of the skin cancer after treatment

Melanoma may spread to organs throughout the body and cause death.

More Pictures Of Basal Cell Carcinoma

While the above pictures show you some common ways that BCC can appear on the skin, this skin cancer can show up in other ways, as the following pictures illustrate.

Scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center

On the trunk, BCC may look like a scaly patch with a spot of normal-looking skin in the center and a slightly raised border, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can be lighter in some areas and darker in others

While BCC tends to be one color, it can be lighter in some areas and darker in others, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can be brown in color

Most BCCs are red or pink however, this skin cancer can be brown, as shown here.

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a group of shiny bumps

BCC can look like a group of small, shiny bumps that feel smooth to the touch.

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a wart or a sore

The BCC on this patients lower eyelid looks like a wart* in one area and a sore** in another area.

If you see a spot or growth on your skin that looks like any of the above or one that is growing or changing in any way, see a board-certified dermatologist.

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Risk Of Getting Melanoma

Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.6% for whites, 0.1% for Blacks, and 0.6% for Hispanics. The risk for each person can be affected by a number of different factors, which are described in Risk Factors for Melanoma Skin Cancer.

Melanoma is more common in men overall, but before age 50 the rates are higher in women than in men.

The risk of melanoma increases as people age. The average age of people when it is diagnosed is 65. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, its one of the most common cancers in young adults .

What Changes In The Skin Occur Due To Exposure To The Sun

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Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces. People think a glowing complexion means good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun can actually speed up the effects of aging and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily in addition to taking longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you’re young, it will definitely show later in life. The sun can also cause issues for your eyes, eyelids, and the skin around the eyes.

Changes in the skin related to sun exposure:

  • Precancerous and cancerous skin lesions caused by loss of the skin’s immune function.
  • Benign tumors.
  • Fine and coarse wrinkles.
  • Freckles discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation and sallowness, yellow discoloration of the skin.
  • Telangiectasias, the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin.
  • Elastosis, the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles.

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How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed In A Child

The healthcare provider will examine your child’s skin. Tell the healthcare provider:

  • When you first noticed the skin problem

  • If it oozes fluid or bleeds, or gets crusty

  • If its changed in size, color, or shape

  • If your child has pain or itching

Tell the healthcare provider if your child has had skin cancer in the past, and if other your family members have had skin cancer.

Your child’s healthcare provider will likely take a small piece of tissue from a mole or other skin mark that may look like cancer. The tissue is sent to a lab. A doctor called a pathologist looks at the tissue under a microscope. He or she may do other tests to see if cancer cells are in the sample. The biopsy results will likely be ready in a few days or a week. Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you the results. He or she will talk with you about other tests that may be needed if cancer is found.

How Can I Help My Child Live With Skin Cancer

If your child has skin cancer, you can help him or her during treatment in these ways:

  • Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian or nutritionist may be able to help.

  • Your child may be very tired. He or she will need to learn to balance rest and activity.

  • Get emotional support for your child. Counselors and support groups can help.

  • Keep all follow-up appointments.

  • Keep your child out of the sun.

After treatment, check your child’s skin every month or as often as advised.

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Why Does Cancer Risk Increase With Age

Over time, the cells in our body can become damaged. This can happen by chance when cells are dividing as usual. Its also caused by things from outside the body such as chemicals from cigarette smoke or UV rays from the sun.

Often this damage can be fixed by our body. But sometimes the damage builds up and can cause cells to grow and multiply more than usual, causing cancer.

As we age, theres more time for damage in our cells to build up, and so more chance that some of this damage might eventually lead to cancer.

The good news is survival is on the up. And thanks to research, treatments are now kinder and more effective than ever.

And dont forget that 4 in 10 cancer cases in the UK could be prevented. Things like stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy balanced diet, staying safe in the sun, drinking less alcohol, and keeping active can all help reduce the risk of cancer. And its never too late to make changes.

Stay Away From Tobacco

Skin cancer prevention: what you need to know

There is no safe form of tobacco. If you smoke cigarettes or use other types of tobacco products, it’s best to stop. It’s also important to stay away from tobacco smoke . Both using tobacco products and being exposed to tobacco smoke can cause cancer as well as many other health problems. If you don’t use tobacco products, you can help others by encouraging the people around you to quit. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 for help, or see How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco to learn more about quitting.

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How Is Skin Cancer Treated

Treatment of skin cancer depends on the type and extent of the disease. Treatment is individualized and is determined by the type of skin cancer, its size and location, and the patient’s preference.

Standard treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include:

  • Mohs surgery : Skin-sparing excision of cancer with complete peripheral and deep margin assessment.
  • Excision.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage: Scraping away the skin cancer cells followed by electrosurgery.
  • Cryosurgery.
  • Drugs .

Standard treatments for melanoma include:

  • Wide surgical excision.
  • Sentinel lymph node mapping : to determine if the melanoma has spread to local lymph nodes.
  • Drugs .
  • Radiation therapy.
  • New methods in clinical trials are sometimes used to treat skin cancer.

Get To Know Your Skin

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

It’s important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you, so that you notice any changes. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.

Develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.

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